Although there was improvement across a range of Hunter Research Foundation’s (HRF) March quarter economic indicators, the Hunter remains vulnerable to both domestic and international economic factors, and requires new investment to sustain growth and continue structural change.
HRF CEO Dr Brent Jenkins said that HRF’s latest Hunter Economic Indicators showed continued recovery in the Hunter labour market.
“The recent trend growth in employment numbers in the Hunter has been sustained into the March quarter 2016, with 14,000 more people employed at the end of March than in January last year,” Brent said.
“This has resulted in the lowest unemployment rates the region has seen since January 2014 and youth unemployment has also dropped from highs of 19.4% in November 2014 to 13% in the March quarter. Although part-time employment has risen faster than full-time.”
There was also a solid lift in dwelling approvals in the March quarter, continuing a six-month trend. In the 12 months to March 2016, 4,309 Hunter dwellings were approved to be built, a 26% rise on the previous year. This bodes well for the regional economy, given the strong economic multipliers associated with construction.
Brent sounded a cautious note on business and consumer confidence in the regional economy, which was still subdued.
He presented details of the full Hunter Economic Indicators at HRF’s Hunter Economic Breakfast at Wests New Lambton last Friday morning – a Hunter Innovation Festival event.
The breakfast also featured UNITAR Manager Alex Mejia, CommBank Global Innovation Labs Tiziana Bianca and a products pitch session with an expert panel.