Paul Antonio
Toowoomba Mayor Paul Antonio

August 3, 2021

Toowoomba mayor Paul Antonio says the decade-long run of economic growth in the Toowoomba region has been “knocked off course” by the pandemic.

However, the Toowoomba region has weathered the challenge to emerge as the third largest regional economy for jobs in Queensland.

The data is included in the TRC’s latest Toowoomba Region Economic Profile (June 2021).

Mayor Antonio said the region’s diverse economy had generated $11.6 billion in Gross Regional Product in 2019-20 and supported an estimated 82, 413 jobs.

“Our region’s decade-long run of uninterrupted economic growth was knocked off course by the coronavirus pandemic, with a $126 million or 4.4 per cent hit to our GRP in the June quarter 2020,” he said.

“This decline was smaller than the average toll on the State and national economies.

“Factoring in the decline, our economic growth has been around 2.8 per cent per year over the past decade, which is higher than the Queensland average.

“Before the pandemic’s economic jolt, the Toowoomba Region economy had grown by 3.6 per cent per year between 2015 and 2019, above the Queensland figure of 2.5 per cent per annum.”

Mayor Antonio said a projected $200 million rebound in crop production, compared with 2020 figures would see the gross value of crop production total $352 million in 2021.

“The total gross value of agricultural production is tipped to reach $995 million in 2021, which is 3.2 per cent lower than the previous peak of $1.027 billion in 2018,” he said.

“Food product manufacturing continues to expand across meat, bakery and dairy product manufacturing and made up 40 per cent of manufacturing value added to the regional economy in 2019-20.”

Exports to international markets, particularly in Asia, contributed $3.4 billion to the region’s economy in 2019-20.

The defence industry contributed $231 million, ahead of the $212 million for the accommodation and food services sector.

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The Toowoomba region’s unemployment rate has hit a near-record low of 3.6 per cent – the lowest since December 2010 and down from 4.3 per cent in May and 4.4 per cent in April.

In comparison, the average Queensland unemployment rate for June 2021 was 6.8 per cent, up from the May figure of 5.4 per cent.

Mayor Antonio said the region recorded Queensland’s best annual percentage growth in employment of 15.7 per cent in the 12 months to June 2021, according to the latest figures from the Queensland Government Statistician’s Office.

The latest figures represented the addition of 10,200 jobs to the region’s economy over the year.

Queensland recorded a 2.4 per cent growth in annual employment to June 2021.

“Our relative short lockdown compared with other parts of Australia and overseas has seen the jobless rate fall consistently this year to be Queensland’s lowest rate,” Mayor Antonio said.

“Our unemployment rate was 4.2 per cent in December 2019; but rose to 7.4 per cent in June 2020 when the economic lockdown caused by the coronavirus was at its worst.

“I’m especially pleased that our youth unemployment rate has fallen from a September 2020 high of 27.2 per cent to the second lowest in Queensland at 7.6 per cent in June 2021.”

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