HARD TIMES: Nick Freeman and Kiarra-leigh Minogue have been struggling to find work.
HARD TIMES: Nick Freeman and Kiarra-leigh Minogue have been struggling to find work. Michael Doyle

Jobs hard to find as unemployment rises

FEWER people in the Western Downs were in work last year, with the unemployment rate in December rising almost 2 per cent from 2016 figures.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, unemployment in the region rose to 5.64 per cent, higher than the national rate.

For Nick Freeman and Kiarra-leigh Minogue, their age and experience levels have made finding a job a challenge.

Mr Freeman said he had been chasing a job since 2015, and said it was becoming increasingly difficult.

"A lot of places are not looking for people who haven't got experience in a wide range of areas,” he said.

"My age is also a factor I believe, because businesses are wanting younger staff who cost less.”

Miss Minogue, 22, said she found it difficult to compete with workers who have recently graduated from school.

"I do not think businesses want to hire people in their mid-20s,” she said.

Mayor Paul McVeigh said his council was investing heavily in new projects, especially in the renewable energy industry, to generate jobs in the region.

"With $5.5 billion worth of currently approved renewables on the Western Downs and $1.2 billion worth of these projects under construction, council is actively attracting investment that is generating new jobs for our region,” Cr McVeigh said.

"While the unemployment rate in the Western Downs has risen slightly, it is still under the national average and 50 per cent less than the South Burnett Council, with whom we are comparable.”

But Miss Minogue said in her experience there were few jobs for people without several qualifications.

Figures for the first quarter of 2018 are due shortly.