ROCHY’S GOT IT ALL WORKED OUT
Local unemployment rate is well below the national average
YOU could be hard-pressed to find a job in Rochester with the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) figures showing a lower than average unemployment rate.
Rochester is placed better than the national average by 0.9 percentage points in the most recent stats and Lockington at 1.7 percentage points below the average. This is despite the closing of local industry Murray Goulburn earlier this year.
Local business owners attribute the strong figures to the town’s resilience and healthy industry in the district. Major’s IGA owner and Rochester Business Network member Brad Major said locals had been resourceful in finding alternative employment despite many positions being filled long term.
“We don’t have a high turnover of senior staff and a lot of our juniors start here when they are 14 or 15 before they head off to uni,” he said.
“They’ll usually come back in their holidays for more work.”
Mr Major said he had noticed a slight spike in the numbers in the past year.
“We have a lot of people come in asking for work,” he said. “In the last 12 months we’ve had more out-oftown people coming in and asking.
“Usually their partner has moved up here for work and they’re also looking around for a job.”
Despite this, he said it wasn’t viable to accommodate more staff as there isn’t a current need.
“There’s always people asking, but we generally keep staff for as long as possible as we’ve trained them for about three or so years,” he said.
For Rochester Caravan Park owner and operator Mick Haisman, seasonal workers provide his park and the town with a cash injection over the summer months.
“I have three main contractors who have workers available. This time of year we probably have about 25 staying but in the summer months it can get up to 80-100 people in town,” he said. “A lot of them don’t have cars and so stay in town, shop at the local shops and buy their groceries here.”
Mr Haisman said with such large numbers, he’s looking to expand his capacity at a new location.
“People in town are looking to attract more tourist dollars but really we could be capitalising on something that’s more long term — and already happening in town,” he said.
“The year before last we knocked back 80 or so workers because we didn’t have the space.”
He said the itinerant workers fill roles in factories in the area during the summer or work on farms.
“Some are looking for jobs indoors so they’re not out in the sun all day, but the majority are at factories,” he said.
“They (the workers) are good to have in town, a lot don’t drink and we haven’t had trouble with them.”
Statewide, the figures are similar with the state government touting its success of creating 6,500 jobs in regional Victoria.
Four in five of those jobs created were full-time positions. Both Bendigo and Shepparton recorded significant jobs growth, with 8.2 per cent and 6.1 per cent increases respectively and were the strongest performing regions in Victoria.