We just want a fair go on jobs

A SPECIAL ARM Newsdesk study of Department of Employment figures shows Clarence Valley residents are 2.3% more likely to be jobless than someone in Sydney City.

The Clarence Valley's unemployment was at 6.7% in December, while Sydney boasted a healthier 4.4% jobless rate.

That is part of the reason Australian Regional Media and NewsCorp are running the Fair Go for Regional Australia campaign.

This newspaper and ARM's 70 other newspapers want to give locals a voice as the federal election looms.

Centre for Labour Market Research director Professor Phil Lewis said the metropolitan-regional employment chasm had rarely been effectively managed.

He said the service sector now made up three quarters of Australia's jobs and closing the gap required spreading those jobs outside metropolitan centres.

"Agriculture and mining combined make up less than 4% of employment, and they're the industries we typically see in rural towns," Prof Lewis said.

"Manufacturing has declined - in 30 years it's gone from more than 22% to less than 10% of employment.

"But really, the big growth area has been in soft services - finance, insurance, education and health."

Whether private or public sector, the services industry has a tendency to give regional areas a wide berth.

Prof Lewis held up Armidale, a city of about 24,000 people, as an example of regional planning done well.

"Instead of every little town having the same facilities, you close a lot of them down and concentrate them into a nearby bigger town," he said.

"Then you provide good public transport for people to get there and you make sure children get access to really good schools.

"There is no easy fix but that's something that seems to be working."

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