COLAC’S unemployment rate has more than halved in 12 months with the number of jobless residents plummeting to 4.4 per cent.
Federal Government statistics showed Colac’s unemployment rate peaked at 9.2 per cent in September 2014, well above the state and national average.
But the latest figures report a 4.4-per-cent unemployment rate in Colac, compared with 6.3-per-cent unemployment in Victoria and 6.2 per cent nationwide.
More than 550 Colac people were jobless in September 2014, but fewer than 260 Colac people were unemployed a year later.
The expansion of major industries in Colac has contributed to the drop in unemployment in the city, with Australian Lamb Company and AKD timber processors among the businesses increasing their workforces.
An ALC spokeswoman said the Colac meat-processing plant employed about 400 workers after boosting its staffing level by 10 per cent in the 12 months from September 2014 to September 2015.
She said the company had continued to see a trend of growth and was currently employing between five and eight new people a week, either replacing workers or increasing the number of staff.
AKD’s workforce also increased from 307 employees in September 2014 to 330 employees in September 2015.
Colac region’s unemployment rate is 2.4 per cent, the Otways’ jobless rate is down to 3.2 and Camperdown has 3.6 per cent unemployment.
Winchelsea’s jobless rate is 4.4 per cent, and the Lorne-Anglesea area has 3.4-per-cent unemployment.
Corangamite MP Sarah Henderson said that nationally, the past 12 months had seen the strongest jobs growth in seven years, with 340,000 jobs created.
“These jobs figures, showing that unemployment in Colac has more than halved compared with 12 months ago, are such good news for our region,” Ms Henderson said.
She said Colac had and would continue to benefit from the government’s focus on small business, innovation, agriculture and manufacturing in driving jobs growth across the whole economy.
“I am very proud of our local initiatives to boost jobs, such as business expansions at AKD Softwoods and Irrewarra Bakery, funded under the Geelong Region Innovation and Investment Fund,” she said.
“Australian Lamb Company is also going from strength to strength assisted by a competitive grant from the GRIIF.
“Our major infrastructure developments such as duplicating the Princes Highway are also driving business confidence and opportunity.”