FULL OF POTENTIAL: Demographer Bernard Salt said a high youth unemployment rate means there are more opportunities for local youth.
FULL OF POTENTIAL: Demographer Bernard Salt said a high youth unemployment rate means there are more opportunities for local youth. Steve Debenport

High youth unemployment isn't always a bad thing

WHILE the Northern Rivers unemployment rate is well-below the Australian average, it is a much different story for the region's youth.

Demographer Bernard Salt said Northern Rivers towns mostly see higher youth unemployment than the NSW average, with only two towns operating below the state average.

Byron Shire's Ocean Shores tops the list with a 12 per cent youth unemployment rate, followed by Lismore, Kyogle and Murwillumbah all with 11 per cent.

In Casino and Wollongbar 10 per cent of the youth aged between 15 and 24 are unemployed, while Pottsville sits on the Australian average of 9 per cent youth unemployment.

Mullumbimby, Lennox Head, Ballina and Byron Bay all sit at the NSW average of 8 per cent youth unemployment, while Byron Shire's South Golden Beach drops below the state average with 7 per cent.

Richmond Valley's Evans Head has the lowest level of youth unemployment, with only 6 per cent of their young adults unemployed.

Mr Salt said he found it "interesting" Evans Head had the lowest level of youth unemployment, especially when he considered the overall unemployment rate for the coastal town was only 4 per cent.

"I suspect in Evans Head the rate is so low because of that energy from seachange and treechange tourism," he said.

"There's most likely jobs for waiters and cleaners, and it's probably easier for youth to get jobs if they hang around."

Nearby Grafton topped the list for the North Coast region, with a 13 per cent youth unemployment rate, but Mr Salt said that may not necessarily be a bad thing.

"It's odd because sometimes a low level of youth unemployment means that youth has gone. They have left the area," he said.

"Some of the areas with the lowest levels of youth unemployment are in locations such as the wheatbelts of Australia.

"For example if you're unemployed and 18 in a little town of, say 300 people, then you know every job, there is no opportunity and you leave."

Mr Salt said in some respects "a high level of youth unemployment means there is a generation that actually has hope that things will turn in the future".

"Otherwise they would be inclined to leave," he said.


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