Toowoomba Region Mayor Paul Antonio has welcomed further falls in the Region’s unemployment figures that rank as the lowest in Queensland, in addition to a youth unemployment rate that has dropped below 10%.

Mayor Antonio said the release of the April 2021 unemployment data by the Queensland Government Statistician’s Office highlighted that the Region’s unemployment figures continued to head in the right direction.

Mayor Antonio said the Toowoomba statistical area’s April unemployment rate of 4.4%, down from 5% in March, was the lowest of the 19 areas across Queensland. It compares with Toowoomba’s most recent unemployment figures of 5.4% in February and 5.8% in January 2021.

The Toowoomba unemployment figure has fallen by 1.5 percentage points over the past year.

The average Queensland unemployment rate was 6.1% for April 2021.

He said the April 2021 youth unemployment rate of 9.7%, down from 13% the previous month, was a decrease of 14.5% over the past year and well down on the September 2020 peak of 27.2%. The average Queensland youth unemployment rate for April 2021 was 15%.

“The other encouraging aspect is that the Toowoomba youth unemployment rate had the largest percentage point decrease across all 19 Queensland statistical areas,” Mayor Antonio, who also chairs Toowoomba Regional Council’s Economic Development portfolio, said.

“The Toowoomba youth unemployment rate is now the equal second lowest across Queensland and has fallen below the average Queensland youth unemployment rate for three consecutive months now, the first time that has happened since August 2019.

“The youth unemployment rate hasn’t been as low in comparison to the general unemployment rate since late 2018. This means that young people effectively have twice the chance of finding employment in our Region now compared with their prospects back in March 2020.”

The latest figures indicate that employment has almost recovered to pre-COVID levels. (The figures are based on 12-month moving averages from ABS data)

“The Toowoomba area has seen the largest annual growth in employment across Queensland’s 19 statistical areas in April 2021 with an additional 11,500 people employed, which equates to 18% growth over the year. The state figure was a decrease of 0.1% over the same time.

“The April figures represent the fifth month in a row that the Toowoomba area had recorded the largest annual percentage growth in employment across Queensland.

“The participation rate in Toowoomba in April 2021 was 61.3%, which is an increase of 8% over the year.

“The participation rate started falling in December 2018 before reaching a low point in February 2020, followed by the recent turnaround.

“We’ve also seen a fall in the number of residents in the 15-64 age bracket who are eligible to receive JobSeeker and youth allowance payments. Around 8.2% of eligible people received payments, down from 8.8% in March.”

Mayor Antonio said continued investment and confidence from private enterprise across many different sectors of the Region’s economy, especially the current demand for building industry services, would underpin employment growth.