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Australia’s ‘at risk’ job loss regions revealed

CofFEE Director Professor Bill Mitchell and his team have updated the Employment Vulnerability Index CofFEE Director Professor Bill Mitchell and his team have updated the Employment Vulnerability Index

Recently released research identifies the communities across Australia that are the most vulnerable to job losses as a result of the worsening economic conditions in Australia.

A new report entitled “Red alert suburbs: An employment vulnerability index for Australia’s major urban regions” is collaborative between researchers at Charles Darwin University’s Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), and Griffith University.

CofFEE Director Professor Bill Mitchell said the research team had updated the Employment Vulnerability Index (EVI), which was originally released in March 2009 with the new ABS statistical area data.

“The model identifies the employment vulnerability by regions,” Professor Mitchell said. “The EVI covers all the nation’s capitals and major regional cities ­ some 85 per cent of the total population.”

Professor Mitchell said the EVI displayed as a searchable and scalable interactive map with the Red Alert and Amber Alert suburbs as most exposed to potential job losses and least well placed to escape disadvantage associated with increasing unemployment.

“As the economy worsens, communities will face potential job losses, but the EVI shows that many will be more affected than others,” he said.

“The report reveals that there are 14.3 per cent of Australian suburbs classified as Red Alert suburbs or those with the highest vulnerability to job loss. Tasmania, Western Australia, South Australia and Victoria have all recorded higher percentages.”

Co-author and Griffith University geographer, Professor Scott Baum said that for some of Australia’s most disadvantaged suburbs the inevitability of increased levels of unemployment would mean further dislocation of these communities from mainstream economic activities leading to deepening levels of concentrated disadvantage. He said the report also identified a new arena of socio-economic disadvantage that would emerge as a result of the economic crisis.

“These areas include the mortgage belt areas in the major cities and regions,” Professor Baum said. “They comprise around 46 per cent of the red alert areas, the remainder being those areas that are traditionally considered disadvantaged.”

Professor Mitchell said the report concluded that while job losses would be located in some of Australia's most disadvantaged suburbs, other places which had been advantaged by economic prosperity in recent years would also face increasing unemployment risk.

“Some of these suburbs are located in the middle and outer suburban mortgage belts where houses were purchased during the recent housing and economic boom,” Professor Mitchell said. “There is a real danger that as unemployment strikes many of these suburbs they could become hot spots for home repossessions.”

The authors of the report argue that the Australian Government should prioritise the minimisation of job loss and should introduce a job guarantee that would offer a public works job to anyone who wanted one at the minimum wage. This should sit side by side to a National Skills Development framework to address shortages in relevant skills which are producing bottlenecks in some regions.

Professor Mitchell said he encouraged the Australian Government to introduce a fiscal stimulus that focused on direct job creation, rather than training people for jobs that were not there.

The report is accompanied by a fully resourced website. Visit W: (