Housing shortage: Jobs graph reveals worrying sign

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There are now almost as many advertised vacant jobs as there are unemployed people and it is coming at a time when there are housing shortages in usually popular regional areas across Australia.

Ray White chief economist Nerida Conisbee said employers were increasingly having to offer accommodation to attract staff.

“While finding people to fill jobs is problematic right now, the increase to the permanent migration cap to 195,000 people will assist,” she said.

Ms Conisbee said there were regional areas across Australia which were likely to have the biggest housing shortages.

She noted there were areas where there had been a large decline in the unemployment rate over the past 12 months, with the rate of unemployment at three per cent or less.

In some areas, rental growth has also been more than 10 per cent, indicating pressure on housing availability.

Whitsundays, Queensland

The Whitsundays has an unemployment rate of 2.8 per cent and has more than halved over the past year.

“This growth in employment is leading to a significant increase in rental levels, with weekly advertised rents having increased by 12.5 per cent in one year,” Ms Conisbee said.

“The region is under pressure from two sources – tourism growth and the success of the mining industry.”

Bowen, the service centre for coal export, had seen an even bigger reduction in its unemployment rate compared to the region and stronger rental growth, Ms Conisbee said.

Tourist destination Airlie Beach had experienced the same, but rental growth was even stronger, she added.

Port Macquarie-Hastings, NSW

The unemployment rate has declined from 6.2 per cent to just 2.7 per cent in the past year, while advertised weekly rents have climbed by almost 20 per cent.

“Unlike the Whitsundays, where the mining industry is a clear driver, the growth of the Port Macquarie-Hastings economy is more mixed,” Ms Conisbee said.

“It is likely that population growth, and more particularly movement of people from more expensive Sydney, has played a role.

“More people creates demand for homes and hospitals. As a result, construction and healthcare are the biggest employers in the region.”

Areas with the strongest rental growth are by the beach, with tourist spots Lake Cathie and North Haven having seen more than 20 per cent rental growth.

“It is likely that housing shortages are further exacerbated by more people buying holiday homes through the pandemic,” Ms Conisbee said.

Moira, Victoria

This inland area in northeast Victoria includes the towns of Yarrawonga, Cobram and Numurkah.

There is no mining, but there is some tourism, although it is not the major driver of economic growth.

“It is likely that this area has seen so much employment growth because of strong agricultural conditions, as well as population movement to the area,” Ms Conisbee said.

“While unemployment has more than halved over the past year, rents are up 13 per cent, and while Yarrawonga has seen the highest growth in prices, the small town of Nathalia has seen the biggest jump in rents.”

Exmouth, Western Australia

While WA’s mining towns need accommodation supplied by employers, Exmouth is a popular tourist area which has seen a rapid reduction in unemployment and a spike in rental levels.

“It is likely similar to the Whitsundays, however, in that there would likely be some benefit from mining-driven wealth, for example holiday home purchases, as well as growth in tourism,” Ms Conisbee said.


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