Poverty line sad reality for many
MORE than 18 per cent of Townsville households are living on less than $ 650 a week, with one economist claiming the amount could be on or below the poverty line.
Figures from the 2016 Census show only 12.6 per cent of households earn more than $ 3000 a week.
The region’s youth unemployment, a reduction in working hours and the loss of high- paying jobs from the mining boom and the Queensland Nickel Refinery closure have been flagged as contributing factors.
A household was defined as having one or more residents, with $ 650 the lowest base income for the Census.
In the 2011 Census, Townsville had the same figure of 18.8 per cent with CPI having adjusted the weekly income average from $ 600.
The postcode 4812 had the lowestearning households, with 27 per cent reporting that they earned a gross weekly income lower than $ 650.
Mayor Jenny Hill said the figures showed many people were on welfare.
“We’re trying to push for the fly- in fly- out hub ( Adani) and battery plant because they are better paying than hospitality and retail and the work is regular,” she said.
“A lot of people aren’t seeing 40hour week employment. There’s a casualisation in the workforce.”
For 4816, average weekly personal income was $ 484 with 25.7 per cent of households earning less than $ 650.
Cr Hill said 18.8 per cent was a “fair chunk” of Townsville’s population.
“Students would be one thing but we know we’ve had difficulties in re- cent times and that’s one of the reasons why we’ve had to put downward pressure on rates,” she said.
Townsville job agency U2E People CEO Rabieh Krayem said many hospitality and retail jobs were not highpaying roles.
“When you look at hospitality, they’re paying anywhere from $ 16 to $ 23 an hour,” he said.
“The era of high- paying roles are ( gone), we’re going back to what I think are more average ( paying) jobs.
“You’ve also got a very high youth unemployment rate in Townsville.”
Adept Economics principal Gene Tunny said education could be a key factor in lower incomes in the North.
He said there would be a large number of people who would argue that given “contemporary standards”, people living on less than $ 650 were on or below the poverty line.
“One of the challenges we’ve got is that Newstart isn’t very generous and that makes it difficult for people on benefits to go and seek work,” Mr Tunny said.
“It’s not a great living standard and you could argue that it is near the poverty line.”