"When unemployment goes up, the northern beaches barely feels it but people in Wide Bay certainly do": ACTU secretary Dave Oliver. Photo: Janie Barrett
Disadvantaged communities will be disproportionately hit by rising unemployment, which reached 6 per cent last month for the first time in a decade.
An ACTU analysis warns that as further job losses bite, the pain of unemployment will be felt most acutely by regions that are not equipped to support the jobless.
It also shows the economy has become less ''multi-speed'' than in previous decades. Affluent areas are less likely to feel the effects of rising unemployment levels.
The figures showed the region with the highest unemployment rates since 1998 was Queensland's Wide Bay (8.8 per cent) and the lowest was Sydney's northern beaches (2.9 per cent). NSW regions Sutherland (3 per cent), Baulkham Hills (3.2 per cent) and North Sydney (3.3 per cent) were in the list of the five regions with the lowest unemployment rates. The NSW region with the highest unemployment rate was the mid-north coast (8.7 per cent).
ACTU secretary Dave Oliver said the findings showed the government should prioritise disadvantaged communities.
''When unemployment goes up, the northern beaches barely feels it but people in Wide Bay certainly do, and the gap between those two areas widens significantly,'' Mr Oliver said. ''The sum result of this will be a widening of the gap between regions, with some communities bearing the brunt of government inaction.''
The analysis was prepared by ACTU economist Matt Cowgill for Monday's Economic Bulletin.
His analysis of Bureau of Statistics data shows regions with low unemployment rates have been steady for the past 15 years, while regions with high unemployment have been volatile during the same period.
''The ill-effects of a sluggish labour market are concentrated disproportionately in particular areas, and become more concentrated as unemployment rises,'' Mr Cowgill said. ''If the national unemployment rate rises further over the coming year, the pain won't be spread evenly.''