Labour markets in regional Australia: recent evidence of national policy effects

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Buultjens, J, Howard, D & Moffat, S 2003, 'Labour markets in regional Australia: recent evidence of national policy effects', Australasian Journal of Business and Social Inquiry, vol. 1, no. 2.

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When compared to metropolitan areas, rural and regional Australia is commonly perceived as having difficult labour markets, with higher levels of unemployment supposedly resulting from difficulties in adjusting to the restructuring taking place in industries across the globe. Initially, this paper shows that there has been a change in regional labour market performance over the past 25 years, noting a significant improvement in the pattern in the recent census data. This pointed to a need for more detailed analysis at the regional level. Accordingly, the north eastern area of New South Wales was selected for case study. The analysis revealed precisely when significant improvement in the region occurred. The evidence suggests that, rather than structural change to industries inside the region generating the positive employment outcomes, it may have been the presence of national labour market programs that were the source. Either way, more recent data from the north east area of New South Wales reveals a reversion to the old pattern of unemployment rates at substantially higher of levels than the national rate.

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