Jobless rate soars to 15pc

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times

A fresh report into the economic damage caused by COVID-19 has highlighted the Augusta-Margaret River shire as one of the top five worst-affected areas in WA.

The WA Local Government Association Impact on Local Economies report found unemployment in the shire had skyrocketed from 5 per cent before COVID-19 to 15 per cent, with about 1370 residents jobless.

The figures are a stark contrast to WA’s overall jobless rate, which jumped from 8.1 per cent to about 13 per cent in the last quarter.

While operators told the Times of worker shortages which they blamed on JobSeeker payments, about 55 per cent of businesses were dependent on JobKeeper to stay afloat.

The hardest-hit industries were hospitality and accommodation (down 17.1 per cent), manufacturing, which includes wineries (down 14.1 per cent), and arts and recreation (down 12 per cent).

Communications, transport, construction, agriculture and forestry all recorded drops between 9 per cent and 5 per cent. Acting Shire of Augusta-Margaret River president Pauline McLeod said the WALGA data was “a serious challenge”.

“It is a severe difficulty we face,” Cr McLeod said.

The report’s Relative Economic Impact index put the shire in the 90th percentile — matched by other tourist destinations in the State.

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