by Mick Doyle
WITH the initial tease of last year's census results being released last week, a review of the Australian Bureau of Statistics reveals some surprising results from the Western Downs.
With unemployment at impressively low levels in parts of the region, the number of people who are receiving the Federal Government's Newstart Allowance has taken a dramatic spike.
Since 2011, the number of Western Downs residents receiving the allowance has nearly doubled.
In 2011, 640 people in the Western Downs received the allowance up to 1218 in 2016.
The ABS shows that of these 1218 on the allowance, 71% of them have been receiving the payment for more than one year.
A spokesperson for the Department for Social Services said the rise may be attributed to demographic changes to the region.
"This spike may have been caused by demographic factors, or localised factors such as local labour market conditions or broader economics influences,” the spokesperson said.
"There were no policy changes over this period that would explain the spike.”
Federal Member for Maranoa, David Littleproud, said the government was working towards helping youth find employment.
"The Federal Government has developed a flexible new approach to not only address unemployment for young people but also help local business to hire more staff,” Mr Littleproud said.