As Christmas and the holiday season fast approaches we can reflect on what has been one of the most tumultuous and challenging years for our community and local businesses. Early 2020 was dominated by the aftermath of the devastating bushfires followed almost immediately by drought breaking rains and hopes of a better year to come. However, by the middle of March the Coronavirus pandemic was well underway with the initial restrictions and lockdowns.
From this time onwards the community and business operators grappled with COVID restrictions in one form or another for several months. The hospitality and tourism industries were hardest hit by the restrictions during that period. A gradual re-opening began around May and the local economy been on a steady path to recovery since then.
In recent months the hospitality and tourism sectors have seen a strong visitation to the area along with high activity levels and solid bookings reported from October through to the New Year. The local housing and real estate sector is also continuing to record very strong growth with record sales and building activity levels. The local construction and building trades are at or near peak output with many of these businesses now not able to take orders until well into 2021. Some commentators believe this is due to a combination of a mass exodus from the metropolitan areas and the government housing stimulus measures now in place.
The Federal Government’s stated aim of a full economic recovery depends heavily on maximising output through achieving as near to full employment as possible. In regional areas such as Port Macquarie youth unemployment is unacceptably high and this remains an unfulfilled goal for governments right across Australia.
Businesses in growth sectors and those that are recovering strongly such as housing and construction, agriculture, technical services and health are continuing to report unfilled vacancies. This seems contradictory to the statistics showing high unemployment or under employment amongst younger workers.
The ongoing challenge is to match up those looking for jobs with employers seeking extra staff. In many instances job vacancies in regional areas are not advertised by small business owners for a variety of reasons. Often a small business does not want to take on a recruitment process but will hire the right candidate if they make themselves known.
There is a message in this for those young job seekers looking for work with any local business. That is to have a properly formatted CV, seek an interview, make the effort to personally go to the business premises, dress appropriately and if possible meet the owner. There is every possibility that a job exists and an employment opportunity may arise from a job applicant simply presenting well and demonstrating a commitment to join the workforce.
As part of the COVID19 recovery process the Federal and NSW Governments have now both put in place budgets focussed on stimulus for businesses to drive growth and achieve lower unemployment. Measures include a range of business incentives to reduce costs and overheads, minimise taxes as well as encourage increased output. Both have outlined big infrastructure spending programs, particularly in regional areas. All of which should bolster confidence and foster continued investment in our area.
Port Macquarie Chamber of Commerce wishes all our members, local business operators, families and their staff a safe, successful and happy Christmas & New Year.
Remember to buy local when you shop for Christmas and support your local business community.