EMPLOYMENT in the Central Highlands-Wimmera region has propelled the state’s regional economy.
Treasurer Michael O’Brien said regional employment in Victoria was the strongest in Australia in the three months to August.
In that period, the state’s regional employment increased by 1.3 per cent compared with the three months to May.
Regional Victoria’s unemployment rate was 5.4 per cent, which Mr O’Brien said was the lowest in Australia.
The national average was six per cent.
“Victoria is the only state where regional jobs increased, and we have the lowest regional unemployment rate in the nation,” he said.
He said the increase in employment was largely driven by the Central Highlands-Wimmera and the Goulburn-Ovens-Murray region.
In the three months to August 2013, employment in the Central-Highlands-Wimmera increased by 3.3 per cent compared with the three months to May 2013, meaning 3700 more people in a job.
Over the year, the region’s employment increased by 6.8 per cent.
Meanwhile, the unemployment rate was 4.2 per cent: lower than regional Victoria’s unemployment rate, and 1.2 per cent lower than it had been three months earlier.
Wimmera Development Association executive director Jo Bourke said the region generally boasted a stable employment sector and a relatively low unemployment rate.
“There continues to be a significant number of jobs being advertised in the region,” she said.
“I use that as a barometer of the health of the employment sector.”
She said advertised jobs represented the full range of employment options available across the Wimmera.
“It includes entry-level trainee and apprenticeship type jobs, skilled employment and a range of professional jobs,” she said.
Mrs Bourke said September and October were typically active employment periods in the Wimmera.
“What we’re seeing at the moment is primary producers and grain companies planning their employment needs for harvest,” she said.
“That generates a bit of movement employment-wise across the region.”
Mrs Bourke said the region’s employers often had to look further afield for job applicants when filling positions because most of the Wimmera’s skilled workers were already gainfully employed.
She said higher education students would also be returning to the region for casual employment opportunities as their school year came to a close.
“A lot of that activity will be based around the regional centres,” she said.