Smart Cities job data surprises council

Employment growth figures arising from Australia’s first National Cities Performance Framework has taken Bendigo council by surprise.

City of Greater Bendigo regional sustainable development manager Trevor Budge

City of Greater Bendigo regional sustainable development manager Trevor Budge

City of Greater Bendigo regional sustainable development manager Trevor Budge said it was hard reconcile the figures with other stats released in the framework.

According to the statistics released, Bendigo has the worst annual employment growth with -3.75 per cent change in the past 12 months.

The Smart Cities plan aims to improve the quality of life and stimulate growth in Australia’s 21 largest cities. Bendigo features in the performance framework as one those cities with a population above 80,000. 

Mr Budge said that statistic is surprising when compared with Bendigo’s unemployment rates.

The performance framework lists Bendigo’s unemployment rate as 5.07 per cent (eighth best) and a youth unemployment rate of 8.85 per cent (third best). 

“The figures are there but are hard to reconcile. We haven’t lost out in youth unemployment,” he said.

“Our official position is that we are studying these figures and trying to reconcile what is almost an anomaly. 

“We’re not aware of that there has been an massive closure of a business. For example, no large firm has laid off 500 people. There’s no logical explanation for that downturn. 

“The hospital has had growth and there's always swings and roundabouts. We will do some burrowing, contact the Federal Government and confirm what statistics they are using.”

CVGT chief executive Paul Green said the poor employment rate could be attributed to major projects finishing in the city.

“In the last three years, Bendigo has had huge capital works projects, two hospitals (Bendigo Base and St John of God) had works that totaled in the millions,” he said.

“There were an enormous number of workers on both those sites. Our company had a bumper period during that time and supplied a significant number of workers to those sites.”

Mr Green said he expected the job opportunities to grow as more developments begin in Bendigo.

“There are some sizable projects in the city like the Kangaroo Flat pool and the Tafe works bounds.”

The youth unemployment rate also impressed Mr Green who couldn’t recall it being lower.

“It’s still higher than what you want but from a historical perspective, for Bendigo it is one of lowest rates on record,” he said.

“I remember it at one stage in ‘90s when it was up to nearly 18 per cent. It hovered around 12 or 13 per cent after that but this is indicative of a vibrant economy with plenty of opportunity.”

To see the full National Cities Performance Framework data click here.