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

For the first time there are now almost as many advertised positions as there are unemployed and the unemployment rate is trending downwards.

While finding vacancies to fill vacancies is currently difficult, raising the permanent migration cap to 195,000 people will help.

However, for many parts of regional Australia, the surge in job demand also comes at a time when housing is scarce.

As a result, employers are increasingly having to offer accommodation to attract employees. This week we take a look at the regional areas where we expect to see job growth and the potential for housing shortages.

To determine which regional areas are likely to experience the greatest housing shortages, we looked at two factors.

The first were areas where the unemployment rate has fallen sharply over the past 12 months and the unemployment rate is 3 percent or less.

Second, we looked at areas where rental growth is already above 10 percent, suggesting that housing availability is already under pressure.

Pentecost, QLD

The Whitsundays currently has an unemployment rate of 2.8 percent and that level is falling rapidly, having more than halved in the last 12 months.

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This employment growth is leading to a significant increase in rental levels, with weekly asking rents increasing by 12.5 percent in one year.

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

Bowen, the service hub for growing coal exports, is not only seeing an even sharper drop in the unemployment rate compared to the region, but also stronger rental growth.

Popular tourist destination Airlie Beach has experienced the same thing, but rental growth is even stronger.

Port Macquarie – Hastings, NSW

The unemployment rate in this region has fallen from 6.2 percent to just 2.7 percent in 12 months.

In the same period, advertised weekly rents have risen by almost 20 percent. Unlike the Whitsundays, where the mining industry is a clear driver, Port Macquarie-Hastings’ economy is growing more mixed.

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

More people create demand for homes and hospitals. As a result, construction and healthcare are the largest employers in the region.

The areas with the strongest rental growth are near the beach. Lake Cathie and North Haven, both tourist destinations, have both seen rental growth in excess of 20 percent.

It’s likely that the housing shortage will be further exacerbated as more people buy vacation homes during the pandemic.

Moira, Vic

The Moira Local Government Area is located in North East Victoria and includes the towns of Yarrawonga, Cobram and Numurkah.

It is a very different area from the Whitsundays and Port Macquarie-Hastings in that it is inland, is not a mining site and although there is tourism, particularly in Yarrawonga, it is not the main engine of economic growth.

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It is likely that this area has seen such strong growth in employment due to the strong agricultural conditions as well as the movement of population into the area.

While unemployment has more than halved in the past year, rents have risen by 13 percent. And while Yarrawonga saw the strongest price growth, the small town of Nathalia saw the biggest rise in rents.

Exmouth, WA

Whilst the mining towns of Western Australia are notorious for their need for employer-provided accommodation, Exmouth in Western Australia is not a mining town but has seen a rapid fall in unemployment and a very sharp rise in rents.

However, it is likely similar to the Whitsundays as there would likely be some benefit from mining-related wealth (e.g. holiday home purchases) as well as growth in tourism.

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