FRASER Coast families are falling further behind the rest of Australia, with the Wide Bay now having the highest jobless rate and the lowest average disposable income in the country.
The National Institute of Economic and Industry Research (NIEIR) 2014-15 State of the Regions Report shows unemployment across the Wide Bay Burnett was the worst in Australia at 16.3% overall - but our young are suffering the most with 28.3% of 20 to 24-year-olds neither studying nor working.
It's not just youths who are struggling to find work - the report related the Wide Bay's high unemployment rate to the wave of early retirees arriving in hope of finding work, but failing to get a job.
THE rate of long-term unemployed in the region sits at 2.7% compared to 1.6% nationally.
The NIEIR unemployment rate is calculated by adjusting the headline unemployment rate for excess take-up of disability pension.
The region has more than twice the nation's average number of disability support pensioners, 6.32% compared to 3.23%, as well as a higher than average number of single parents.
As a result, our average disposable income in our region was at $33,300 per year, compared to $40,000 nationally - and less than half that of ACT residents, which were the most cashed-up in the country with an average $68,000 disposable income.
Our aging population and welfare dependence means we have the country's fourth-lowest wage income per resident behind coastal New South Wales areas, which the report attributed to "retirement migration".
The annual report highlighted the chasm between the regions which have benefited from the Australian mining boom, and those which have been left behind.
"Whatever lip service may be made to equality of opportunity across the nation, it is manifestly not attained regionally," the report said.
"The mining boom has raised the pace of development in regions with large deposits of iron ore, coal and gas and has consolidated the position of the regions with high education, high social status and inherited wealth.
"However, it has disadvantaged regions dependent on industries depressed due to the over-valued exchange rate and has bypassed the retirement regions, which despite their attractive seascapes have maintained their established status as zones of limited economic opportunity."
But it's not all bad news.
The Wide Bay Burnett was listed as one of the country's main regions to experience growth in hospitality which the report attributed to a push by local government and businesses to chase the tourism dollar.
It was also one of five regions in which the health sector reported the largest increase in employment. The health sector grew more than 6%, which the report put down to investment by the Commonwealth Government.