The Tweed is deemed as a high risk area according to the Employment Vulnerability Index.
The Tweed is deemed as a high risk area according to the Employment Vulnerability Index.

Why Tweed jobs some of hardest hit by COVID-19 shutdown

THE Tweed's job future could be hit hard if reopening the Queensland/NSW state border is delayed.

University researchers have forecast the shire could be among the worst affected areas for job losses hit by the coronavirus downturn along with Coolangatta and Surfers Paradise.

A university study mapping how regions' jobs will be affected by the pandemic found the region to be 'high risk' of employment vulnerability due to COVID-19 job losses, in particular Tweed Heads and Banora Point.

The Tweed along with the Gold Coast suburbs were found to be reliant on the border re-opening with the closure destroying the tourism industry.  

Researchers at Griffith University and the University of Newcastle used a combination of census data and The Employment Vulnerability Index 3.0 (EVI) to model the suburbs most at risk across the country by giving an index score for towns and cities with a population of 10,000 people or more.

Study co-author Professor Scott Baum from Griffith University's Cities Research Institute and the Policy Innovation Hub said the future of the Tweed's economic recovery rested on whether another spike in coronavirus occurred and how long the border was closed.

He explained our region fell into two categories in the study, the first recognised the region being 'historically disadvantaged' in terms of job losses.

The second was in a group of emerging localities who were likely to experience social and economic pain.

Professor Baum said the two groups raised different issues for policy makers.

"For the group we call 'existing disadvantage job loss suburbs', further labour market disadvantage will cement the social and economic malaise experienced by these communities and widen the gap with the rest of the nation," he said.

"How deep and long these potential impacts will be is a matter of wait and see.

"We won't suddenly be back in six months' time.

"The double whammy in the Tweed region is the border lockdown as well - they're not getting the flow from the northerners."

State Member for Tweed Geoff Provest agreed.

He said the border should reopen "now" to help our region which has always had an unemployment rate about 2-3 per cent higher than the state average.

"We're a tourism economy, with tourism on either side. This is detrimental to all our tourism operators," Mr Provest said.

"We've gone through some really hard times and we need to kickstart the economy.

"After all, our schools go back full-time on Monday.

"We've flattened the curve and we've had no new cases."

Mr Provest said he was also concerned about the mental health of people in the region.

"Once the benefits run out, that's when the real pain will get started."

Professor Baum explained vulnerable regions were areas with large retail and tourism sectors, where the majority of resident's jobs had already been flagged as 'at risk' from previous downturns.

"The broad Richmond-Tweed area has seen a fall of 8.4 per cent in payroll jobs from mid-March to mid-April," he said.

This was above state and national averages but lower than other areas such as the mid-North Coast which was at 11.8 per cent and the Gold Coast at 9 per cent.

Professor Baum said he was concerned there would be an increase in unemployment and deterioration of the labour market "as soon as the government takes its foot off the accelerator".

"Some of the places that struggle to refloat their economies are going to need some direct interventions," he said.

"Some areas will struggle to come out the other end without a lot of pain."

He said the government needed to rethink its views on economic management.

"Just now, the most disadvantaged are the ones getting hurt."

"There will be bounce-back - I just think it will take longer than the government thinks."

Co-author Professor Bill Mitchell, from the University of Newcastle's Centre of Full Employment and Equity, also warned "there is a real danger" the government

"will retract its support mechanisms too soon".

Articles contributed by Louise Shannon were supported by the Judith Neilson Institute of Journalism and Ideas.