Jobless ‘epidemic’ must be addressed: employment agency boss

A LEADING Fraser Coast job agency has called on community leaders and all levels of government to address underemployment and jobless rates on the Fraser Coast.

Fraser Coast TESS chief executive officer Lance Stone said unemployment rates were now an epidemic that should be viewed the same as public health issues.

Underemployment statistics were released for the first time by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Wednesday.

The figures show under-utilisation, a combination of people looking for a job or looking for more hours, was at 13.8% in Queensland.

"Everyone acknowledges that there is a problem but no one wants to do anything about it at a state and federal level," Mr Stone said.

"It does affect us all, it's like skin cancer," he said.

His business has asked workers in the community sector to reduce hours, as government funding for employment programs has been slashed in the past year.

It is only one of several Fraser Coast businesses to ask staff to reduce hours in the past year, including manufacturing business CQMS Razer.

Federal member for Hinkler Paul Neville said under-utilisation rates in the Wide Bay were likely to be up to 2% worse than the state average.

He said addressing joblessness first meant addressing an ailing economy.

"When the Australian economy is booming, the Wide Bay economy seems to do appreciably better."

He said governments must address red tape to help stimulate business growth, particularly for agricultural and horticultural businesses.

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