A GREATER share of pandemic-stricken businesses were forced to apply for JobKeeper in Flora Hill and Spring Gully than any other part of central Victoria, new figures show.
Just over 58 per cent of businesses in the two suburbs applied for JobKeeper in May, a breakdown by economic consultancy REMPLAN has revealed.
The suburbs were hit even harder than Castlemaine, where a tanking tourism industry helped push more than 51 per cent of businesses into JobKeeper, principal REMPLAN economist Matthew Nichol surmised.
"It's the mix of industries in any area that seem to be the determining factor, like hospitality, for example," he said.
"Just thinking of what was there in a place like Spring Gully, there's a lot of sporting-related activities directly affected by social lockdowns.
"There's also some allied services there as well."
Mr Nichol said people might be surprised to hear that many allied health businesses have struggled during the pandemic.
"In some cases people are putting off appointments they would ordinarily have scheduled," he said.
JobKeeper was a good gauge of the scale of economic pain in an area because any business that applied would likely have been dealt a 30 per cent financial blow, Mr Nichol said.
All other areas of Bendigo hovered around 38 per cent, with Bendigo's city centre recording the lowest proportion at 36.1 per cent.
Mr Nichol said REMPLAN's breakdowns were a direct response to previous metro-centric analysis that focused only on the number of JobSeeker applications in areas.
Those breakdowns found areas like Melbourne and Sydney's city centres had more businesses in need of JobKeeper.
"It's not entirely surprising they would have really large numbers, but every Australian region is of a different size and we felt it was important that each community and region knew how it had been proportionately impacted," Mr Nichol said.
Farming hubs appear to have escaped relatively unscathed from the economic crisis.
Only 17.5 per cent of businesses in a region incorporating Inglewood, Wedderburn and Pyramid Hill had applied for JobKeeper.
"Demand for the things we need, whether that's food or fibre, remains pretty intact," Mr Nichol said.
"When you look at the data nationally, it's clear that the areas that have strong visitor economies are the ones where high proportions of businesses have asked for JobKeeper," he said.
REMPLAN also crunched JobKeeper numbers for local government areas and found that Castlemaine was the hardest hit in central Victoria.
There, 45.2 per cent of businesses had applied for JobKeeper, leaving the shire among the top 10 per cent of hard hit council areas nationwide.
In Greater Bendigo, 38.2 per cent had applied. In the central Goldfields, 37.3 per cent had done the same thing.
New South Wales' tourist hotspot Byron Shire - which encompasses Byron Bay - topped that list. REMPLAN estimated 67 per cent of businesses there had applied for JobKeeper.
"Down in Victoria, places like the Surf Coast Shire and Hepburn are really standing out," Mr Nichol said.
REMPLAN has so far published data for April and May and will be watching when the next round of JobKeeper data is released.
"That could give us some insights into whether the negative economic impacts are accelerating, stabilising or, hopefully, gradually getting back onto a path towards, well, some kind of 'new normal'," Mr Nichol said.