Echuca 'at high risk of job losses'

ECHUCA-Moama has been listed as a “red alert” region that is highly vulnerable to job losses if the national economy falters in 2014.

In the Red Alert Suburbs: An Employment Vulnerability Index for Australia’s Major Urban Regions, Echuca was identified as a region “not previously considered to be disadvantaged, but which may become so as a result of declining labour market conditions”.

California Gully and Eaglehawk in Bendigo are also named in the report as existing “red alert suburbs” and among Australia’s most disadvantaged suburbs.

The report says there is a general consensus that unemployment rates will rise above 6 per cent  in 2014 - higher than any time during the past 10 years.

Some places are more exposed to job losses and disadvantage than others, the report says.

“We are likely to see that existing disadvantaged places become more disadvantaged as employment options shift, and we are likely to see a new breed of disadvantaged places follow in their wake as once stable labour markets begin to decline.”

The report identifies Echuca-Moama as a new place of disadvantage – “very vulnerable to employment loss if the national economy contracts”.

“In terms of post-secondary qualifications, Echuca has education levels which are below the Victorian average.

“This increases the likelihood that the suburb will experience job losses in a national contraction.

“Individuals in Echuca earn less than the median individual income for Victoria while median family income in Echuca is less than the median family income for Victoria."

St Luke's Echuca manager Francis Lias said while unemployment had the potential to impact on the people St Luke's work with, there were broader issues to consider.

"Yes, the likelihood of increased unemployment is a real issue in our region, with some companies doing it tough or closing down, and retail trends looking to online business,” he said.

“But vulnerable people are further burdened by high rental prices that are not declining, and high utility service charges - all these factors come together when we talk about why local people struggle to make ends meet."

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