Workers may be leaving the Coast

OUR region appears to be losing workers.

Labour force figures released by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations indicate in the area between Coffs Harbour and Kempsey, the number of employees dropped by 1768 between June 2009 and June 2010.

Coffs Harbour lost 993 workers, Bellingen 186, Nambucca 227 and Kempsey 362.

While there have been slight increases in unemployment, this is dwarfed by the drop in worker numbers.

So where have all the workers gone?

Dr Grant Cairncross, senior lecturer in the school of tourism and hospitality at Southern Cross University, said the region was seeing a number of demographic changes, but he believed the region was still feeling the effects of the global financial crisis and this was showing up in the employment statistics.

He said the first tranche of the baby boomers were now entering retirement and many of the coast’s ‘sea changers’ were happy to work fewer hours or not work at all.

He said many business owners and managers in Australia had dealt with the downturn by winding back overtime, reducing workers’ hours or looking at job sharing

Dr Cairncross said with the shape of the region’s population graph showing quite a lot of residents in the older age groups, it was likely some staff had also taken early retirement.

With the Coffs Coast firmly placed in the second part of the ‘two speed economy’, mobile workers with particular skills were probably moving to mining areas within NSW or in other States, he said.

Dr Cairncross said there was a good chance the next six months would see more people working more hours.

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