STOPPING the loss of the Border’s young people searching for work in the big cities will continue to be a problem for the region.
That is a key conclusion from the 16th and latest State of the Regions report, one of its authors, Peter Hylands, said yesterday.
The 2014-15 report — Regional Development in a Globalised Economy — is produced by the National Economics for the Australian Local Government Association.
But there were many positives from the report, such the region’s health-related sector getting stronger.
Also manufacturing has defied a national trend in producing more jobs in the “Murray Far West” region — which covers Albury and much of the Farrer federal electorate — than in 1994.
Numbers employed in manufacturing have grown from 4150 to 4676 positions in the past 20 years, it has claimed.
Agriculture was the clear winner in Victoria’s Hume region covering Wodonga, Wangaratta, Benalla, Shepparton and the hilly outskirts of north-east Melbourne.
In 1994 there were 14,926 jobs in the sector — it’s now 16,401.
Mr Hylands said: “Agriculture remains the highest and most important employer in the region — it’s obviously very big and diverse.”
The big concern is the problem of teenagers failing to secure local jobs and instead heading for Melbourne or Sydney.
Mr Hylands said the unemployment rate for the 15 to 24 age group this year in Murray Far West was about 12 per cent.
“It sounds awful though there are plenty of places that are worse,” he said.
“But it is getting worse, because in 2004 you only had 6.8 per cent of the 15 to 24 group unemployed.”
Mr Hylands said there was also many either not traditionally unemployed or students.
“There’s a fair percentage of disengaged youth in the region — about 8.5 per cent — and that’s something really to watch for,” he said.
“One of the things that happens is the transition pathways for some people is a lot harder than others, and often that is geographical.
“That’s why we’re saying the idea of shifting young people around the country to find jobs needs to be thought through a lot more carefully.”