Large disparity in unemployment rates across Brisbane suburbs

An important policy debate in 2012 was around the level of unemployment benefits, with welfare groups such as ACOSS arguing people on Newstart could be too poor to look for work (as reported on I have some sympathy for this position because many unemployed people are disadvantaged by living in outer suburbs and would have to pay more in transport costs in looking for work than people in inner city suburbs. Further, they are disadvantaged by having much less accessible and available public transport than people in the inner city.

There is a clear disparity in unemployment rates across the Brisbane metropolitan area, with very low unemployment in the leafy Western suburbs, but with clusters of unemployed people on the Northern, Southern and Western outskirts of Brisbane, particularly in Caboolture, Inala, Woodridge and Kingston. While I think there is a risk of discouraging job search efforts if unemployment benefits are increased signficantly, I think there is a strong case for investing in better public transport for outer-lying areas with high unemployment.

Brisbane small area unemployment rates, September 2012

BrisbaneThe map of unemployment rates above is based on September quarter 2012 small area labour market estimates produced by the Commonwealth Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR). Basically, DEEWR produces a best guess of small area unemployment rates based on ABS labour market data for bigger areas (e.g. Brisbane Inner City) and recent Centrelink data on unemployment benefit recipients.

There appears to be less of a disparity in unemployment across the suburbs of other Queensland cities, such as Townsville (first chart below) and Cairns (second chart below), where every small area appears to suffer high unemployment except for the Northern suburbs.

Townsville small area unemployment rates, September 2012


Cairns small area unemployment rates, September 2012




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2 Responses to Large disparity in unemployment rates across Brisbane suburbs

  1. Michael McGregor says:

    Interesting mapping to highlight unemployment spread across Brisbane. I agree with your point about better access to transport for unemployed to increase mobility in job searching. But while the residents in outer suburbs have to pay more in public transport than those in inner suburbs, you could also argue that those residing in inner Brisbane pay more in rent and mortgages, therefore offsetting this advantage. There needs to be more emphasise on encouraging those that receive wlefare payments to work at non-profit organisations that are in desperate need of volunteers. This would see a double benefit for both individuals looking to get experience and community organisations.

    • Gene Tunny says:

      Thanks Michael. That’s a good idea. More broadly, I wonder whether there is any way members of the public can find out about volunteering opportunities? Perhaps there would be value in govt setting up a website to match organizations with prospective volunteers.

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