Youth unemployment surges in Hunter

One in five youths in the Hunter, outside Newcastle, are out of work, according to new figures.YOUTH unemployment in the Hunter, outside Newcastle, has risen to 20.6per cent and is the highest in NSW, according to new figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The jobless rate for 15 to 24-year-olds is 15.1per cent in the Newcastle/Lake Macquarie region and 14.9per cent on the Central Coast.

The youth unemployment rate in the Maitland area is about five times the jobless rate for young people living in Sydney’s northern beaches, which is 5.2per cent.

Politicians from the government and opposition have said the situation was unacceptable.

Parliamentary secretary for the Hunter Scot MacDonald said he was unhappy to hear that the youth unemployment rate in the Hunter had broken the 20per cent mark.

‘‘As a government, we have got to do better,’’ he said.

‘‘The Hunter is feeling the cyclic effects of the price crunch in the coal industry, which has flow-on effects.

‘‘It’s a difficult space out there.’’

Mr MacDonald said the government was still working out how its new Jobs For NSW initiative, which is expected to create 150,000 new positions across the state, could help the Hunter.

Jobs For NSW will deliver $190 million over the next four years to boost job creation across the state.

But opposition spokeswoman for the Hunter Jodie Harrison said Premier Mike Baird cut funding for regional jobs programs.

‘‘More than one in five young people in the Hunter cannot find a job,’’ she said.

‘‘It is simply unfair that where a young person has grown up can give such disadvantage.

‘‘How can the Premier cut regional funding and leave Hunter families knowing that their kids are four times more likely to be unemployed than young people in the Premier’s electorate?’’

The youth unemployment rate in the Hunter, outside Newcastle, jumped from 5.8per cent to 16.8per cent between the beginning of 2013 and June, 2014. It was floating around the 15er cent mark at the beginning of this year.

Youth Express CEO Julie Eldridge told Fairfax Media in January that the region’s jobless rate for young people was ‘‘scarily high’’.

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