Beau Gilbert, a new employee at the Norco ice-cream factory in South Lismore, is helping meet demand from increased ice-cream sales due to the hot weather.
Beau Gilbert, a new employee at the Norco ice-cream factory in South Lismore, is helping meet demand from increased ice-cream sales due to the hot weather. Jay Cronan

Workers in strong demand

NORTH Coast employers have helped feed a surge in statewide employment figures in recent months.

The Norco Foods branch of the Norco Co-operative has added 35 staff since October, mainly to deal with a boost in productivity at its ice-cream factory in South Lismore.

Many of the new employees are casual workers, but there are also some permanent full-time and part-time staff, according to the company’s human resources department.

Northern Rivers employment and training agency NORTEC also reported a strong demand for workers in the hospitality industry across the region in the first two weeks of 2010.

The good news for the area ties in with latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) which were published yesterday, showing that the NSW unemployment rate fell by 0.1 per cent on a seasonally adjusted basis in December, from 6 per cent to 5.9pc.

The unemployment rate is much lower than had been expected. The NSW unemployment rate peaked at 6.8pc in March last year.

Acting NSW Treasurer, John Hatzistergos, yesterday welcomed the fall in the jobless rate. NSW was seeing signs of a sustained labour market recovery, he said.

“On a trend basis, employment in NSW has now grown every month since April 2009,” Mr Hatzistergos said.

“This is a further step towards sustained recovery for NSW working families and shows NSW is leading the nation in economic recovery.”

National unemployment figures also showed an up-tick. Australia’s unemployment rate was 5.5pc in December, a fall of 0.1pc from 5.6pc in November.

The number of people in work last month increased by 35,200 to 10.906 million.

The rise was driven by a hike in part-time employment, up 27,900 people to 3.271 million, together with a rise in full-time employment, up 7300 to 7.635 million.

Unemployed decreased by 10,600 last month to 639,400.

Employment firm Drake Australia yesterday welcomed the fall.

Chief executive officer Matthew Tukaki said 131,300 new jobs had been created in the past four months and that 58pc of these had been full-time positions.

However, Mr Tukaki warned that small companies were still vulnerable.

“It is the first and second year after recoveries that most bankruptcies occur as businesses struggle with tighter lending standards and increasing interest rates,” he said.

JOB FIGURES

NSW jobless rate fell by 0.1pc to 5.9pc in December.

Number of Australians in work in December increased by 35,200 to 10.906 million.

131,300 new jobs created in past four months.



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