Winners and losers in the COVID jobs disruption of 2020
The Richmond-Tweed area increased the number of jobs available during the COVID period starting in 2020, while some areas were still decimated by the pandemic.
Former MP Don Page was recently reappointed as chair the RDA-Northern Rivers Committee until June 30, 2025.
"We've had about one per cent rise in unemployment during COVID through the whole region (Tweed to Grafton), that's 2000 people not employed now that had jobs pre-COVID," he said.
"Richmond-Tweed, which comprises two thirds of the region's workforce, actually increased the number of people employed by 600 over in 2020, but there are sectors of the economy that have done better and a few that have done very badly."
Mr Page said construction saw a 14 per cent increase in the number of jobs, from 13,100 to 14,900.
"The other area with an increase in employment locally has been healthcare, from 15,300 to 20,800, a 36 per cent increase.
"On the flip side, we have seen falls in accommodation and food services, of around 29 per cent, from 13,700 to 9700 people on jobs, and in the arts and recreation we saw a massive reduction of 61 per cent, from 3100 to about 1200," he said.
Mr Page pointed at some of the industries the government will focus on to support the local economy.
"There are half a dozen industries in our region that we are good at and where we have extra potential to develop: tourism, food production, age and healthcare, the creative arts, construction and of course, we are a clean and green region and we wast to stay that way, so renewable energy and technology is also important," he said.
Mr Page said specific projects for an upcoming rail trail, support for the film industry and other areas of the local economy are already underway.
The support will be channelled from the Federal Government via the Northern Rivers chapter of Regional Development Australia (RDA).
Mr Page said before COVID, the main achievement by RDA Northern Rivers under his leadership was keeping local employment levels above the state average.
"We are not taking all the credit for this, but the fact is that the unemployment rate for the regional halved in that time," he said.
"We were able to bring unemployment back from roughly 10 per cent across the region to five per cent, even down to four depending no what period you look at.
"Within the region, there were some areas that did quite well, with Ballina for instance, going from six per cent in 2016 unemployment back to three per cent at the end of 2019."