JOB SEEKING: The agricultural, forestry and fishing industries are the only ones projected to see a significant decline in employment.
JOB SEEKING: The agricultural, forestry and fishing industries are the only ones projected to see a significant decline in employment.

Optimism despite dire projections for major Bundy industry

PROJECTED employment in the Wide Bay’s agricultural, forestry and fishing industries is predicted to fall by almost 12 per cent by May 2024 according to information from the Department of Employment’s regional projections.

It’s the sector projected to lose the most workers by that time, falling from a projected employment level of 7600 in May 2019 to 6800 by May 2024, a drop of 900 workers.

But the numbers are only indicative and based off trends, which is why Bundaberg Chamber of Commerce president Tim Sayre believes the figures should be taken with a grain of salt.

“While we’ve notices there’s been a decline in the number of businesses in agriculture – we haven’t seen a decrease in the number of people employed,” Mr Sayre said.

“I don’t get quite why they’re predicting a decline of 11.7 per cent in agriculture.”

Not all sectors were projected to trend downward, with a growth of 1100 employees predicted for the health care and social assistance sector, 900 in public administration and safety and 700 in accommodation and food services.

Across all industries, net projected employment is set to rise by about 2000 people across the Wide Bay.

The agriculture, forestry and fishing industries are the only sector projected to see noteworthy decline in employment level.

“The biggest problem we have in agriculture at the moment is availability of water,” Mr Sayre said.

“There’s been a decline in the number of businesses but they’re still a strong employer.”

And while he said it would be scary if the drought continued over the next few years, the industries would return to their status as major job drivers with some rain.

“When we have water, we’re unstoppable, we really are,” he said.

“That’s why Paradise Dam was a bit of a hit, but we do have other water sources we can use, so we’re okay-ish.”

The spillway of Paradise Dam is currently being lowered by 5m following safety concerns about the structure.