News

Murrumbidgee thriving compared to state

By Daniel Hughes

The Murrumbidgee region has weathered the storm of an uneasy start to 2020 better than most in NSW.

Recent data released by the National Institute of Economic and Industry Research shows that as a result of Coronavirus, employment in the Murrumbidgee local government area has fallen by five per cent.

The impact across regional NSW has been measured at an 11 per cent fall, and minus 15 per cent across NSW.

The same report indicates that gross regional product in the Murrumbidgee LGA is predicted to fall by four per cent.

Across regional NSW the figure is closer to a reduction of 10 per cent.

The figures are for the June quarter, and therefore records impacts from more than just Coronavirus.

Murrumbidgee Council economic development and tourism manager Kellie Dissegna said helping to insulate the Murrumbidgee Council area from more significant impacts is the fact it escaped the devastating losses of the bush fire season.

The region’s appeal with domestic tourists, rather than international, also helped, Ms Dissegna said.

But she said the region can only continue to evade more significant impacts with the support of the local and district community.

‘‘We don’t have a large proportion of the local economy relying on international tourism like some other local government areas across the nation,’’ she said.

‘‘Murrumbidgee’s largest industry is agriculture, and so we are still concerned that our businesses have been hit with a double whammy — firstly the drought and then COVID-19.

‘‘Throughout the lockdown period we kept our business well informed of support and assistance available to them and we will continue to do this.

‘‘We also kept our community informed of local business houses that remained open during the lockdown period.

‘‘As restrictions are easing, we are running a series of promotions to encourage people to shop local and support our business houses.

‘‘Our small businesses are the heart of our community and we must all support them, to assist them to recover from the loss of business during this challenging period.’’

The National Institute of Economic and Industry Research report, completed in May, estimates that fewer than 20 jobs have been lost from the agriculture, forestry and fishery employment sector in the Murrumbidgee Council region for the June 2020 quarter.

The largest single area of job losses is the accommodation and food services sector, with an estimated loss of 45 jobs. More than half of those are believed to be on JobKeeper payments.

The professional, scientific and technical services sector has also been hit hard, with more than Murrumbidgee LGA 20 jobs lost in that sector.

The report also indicates losses in manufacturing (19 jobs), education and training (16), arts and recreation services (15) and retail (nine).

The NIEIR says opportunities in the health care and social assistance sector have increased significantly during the pandemic, estimating almost 60 extra jobs have been added to that sector in the Murrumbidgee LGA during the June quarter.