Elite AgentOPINION

More jobs than people? Where we are set to see the worst housing shortages

For the first time ever, there are now almost as many advertised vacant jobs as there are unemployed people and the unemployment rate continues to trend downwards.

While finding people to fill jobs is problematic right now, the increase to the permanent migration cap to 195,000 people will assist.

For many parts of regional Australia however, the increase in employment demand is also coming at a time where there are housing shortages.

As a result, employers are increasingly having to offer accommodation to attract staff. This week we take a look at the regional areas where we are set to see employment growth and the potential for a housing shortage.

To work out the regional areas where we are likely to have the biggest housing shortages, we looked at two factors.

The first were areas where there has been a large decline in the unemployment rate over the past 12 months and the rate of unemployment is 3 per cent or less.

The second is that we looked at areas where rental growth has already been greater than 10 per cent, indicating that there is already pressure on housing availability.

Whitsundays, QLD

The Whitsundays currently have an unemployment rate of 2.8 per cent and this level is coming down quickly, more than halving over the past 12 months.

This growth in employment is leading to a significant increase in rental levels with weekly advertised rents having increased by 12.5 per cent in one year.

The region is under pressure from two sources – tourism growth and the success of the mining industry.

Bowen, the service centre for the growing coal export has seen not only an even bigger reduction in its unemployment rate compared to the region, but also stronger rental growth.

Popular tourist destination Airlie Beach has experienced the same however rental growth is even stronger.

Port Macquarie – Hastings, NSW

The unemployment rate in this region has declined from 6.2 per cent to just 2.7 per cent in 12 months.

Over the same period, advertised weekly rents have climbed by almost 20 per cent. Unlike the Whitsundays where the mining industry is a clear driver, the growth of the Port Macquarie-Hastings economy is more mixed.

It is likely that population growth and more particularly, movement of people from more expensive Sydney has played a role.

More people creates demand for homes and hospitals. As a result construction and healthcare are the biggest employers in the region.

The areas seeing the strongest rental growth are by the beach. Lake Cathie and North Haven, both tourist destinations have both seen in excess of 20 per cent rental growth.

It is likely that housing shortages are further exacerbated by more people buying holiday homes through the pandemic.

Moira, VIC

The Moira Local Government Area is located in the north-east of Victoria and includes the towns of Yarrawonga, Cobram and Numurkah.

It is quite a different area to the Whitsundays and Port Macquarie-Hastings as it is inland, is not a mining location and while there is tourism, particularly in Yarrawonga, it isn’t the major driver of economic growth.

It is likely that this area has seen so much employment growth because of strong agricultural conditions, as well as population movement to the area.

While unemployment has more than halved over the past year, rents are up 13 per cent. And while Yarrawonga has seen the highest growth in prices, the small town of Nathalia has seen the biggest jump in rents.

Exmouth, WA

While Western Australia’s mining towns are well known as being areas that need accommodation supplied by employers, Exmouth in Western Australia is not a mining town but has seen a rapid reduction in its unemployment rate and a very hefty increase in rental levels.

It is likely similar to Whitsundays, however, in that there would likely be some benefit from mining driven wealth (e.g., holiday home purchases), as well as growth in tourism.

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Nerida Conisbee

Nerida Conisbee is the Chief Economist at Ray White.