Aerial photography Sunshine Coast. Sunshine Coast University Hospital.
Aerial photography Sunshine Coast. Sunshine Coast University Hospital. John McCutcheon

Health sector leads as Sunshine Coast jobs surge

A SURGING health sector led by last year's opening of the Sunshine Coast University Hospital led job creation on the Sunshine Coast last year, keeping the region's unemployment rate below Brisbane's for the second year in a row.

On Trend data compiled by Conus economist Pete Faulkner shows unemployment on the Sunshine Coast is down to 5 per cent - the level now accepted as full employment, while the jobless figure for Greater Brisbane sits at 5.4 per cent.

However, young people continue to miss out in the Coast's jobs market, with only about 300 of the 13,200 new positions created in 2017 going to workers aged between 15 and 24 and the region's youth unemployment rate remaining stubbornly high at 13 per cent.

Complicating the figures further, more than half the new positions - about 7000 - were part-time, with the remaing 6200 full-time.

The health sector also accounted for more than half the new new positions, with its 6800 new positions dwarfing the Coast's other employment leaders - the transport, postal, and warehousing sector, which added 2700 jobs, and construction, which added 2300 jobs.

The surge was also enough to counteract a decline in one of the Sunshine Coast's biggest industries, retail, which shed 1500 jobs despite major developments such as the Sunshine Plaza expansion.

It means the Coast's jobless rate is now sitting close to its lowest point since mid-2008 - the only time in at least the past 20 years it has slipped below 4 per cent.

And the jobs surge looks set to continue, with Mr Faulkner finding employment growth on the Sunshine Coast at 8.1 per cent, compared to 5 per cent for Brisbane and 4.6 per cent for Queensland overall.

And, while times remained tough for young job seekers on the Sunshine Coast, other parts of the state had it worse. The neighbouring Wide Bay area had an overall unemployment rate of 10 per cent - double that of the Sunshine Coast - and a youth unemployment rate of more than 30 per cent.

People aged between 25 and 44 had the lowest jobless rate on the Sunshine Coast - 2.8 per cent, while 4 per cent of people aged over 45 were unemployed.

In his assessment of the Sunshine Coast's labour market, Mr Faulkner says part of the reason for the Coast's high youth unemployment rate could be a surge in the number of young people looking for work.

"Youth unemployment is now about the state average despite rising somewhat over the year," Mr Faulkner says in his assessment.

"The fact that the youth cohort has seen jobs growth (albeit minimal) and yet a significant rise in unemployment rate over the year points to the likelihood that this age group is responsible for much of the increase in the participation rate."

How we compare

Mackay: 3.7%

Darling Downs - Maranoa: 3.9%

Toowoomba: 4.4%

Sunshine Coast: 5%

Gold Coast: 5.3%

Brisbane: 5.4%

Cairns 5.9%

Fitzroy: 7.2%

Townsville: 9.6%

Wide Bay: 10%

The Sunshine Coast labour market

109,300 full-time jobs

66,700 part-time jobs

Total unemployed: 4600

Unemployment rate: 5%

Participation rate: 61.2%

Youth unemployment: 13%

Middle unemployment: 2.8%

Older unemployment: 4%

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