Northern Rivers households $134,000 poorer than average

REGIONAL economies like the Northern Rivers that rely on tourism must set themselves apart from the pack, according to a new report into regional Australia.

The Australian Local Government Association's annual State of the Regions report found tourism played an especially important role in the Northern Rivers, where wages were typically lower than the Australian average.

"International tourism to Australia, and domestic tourism within, are expected to increase following the perceived fall in the value of the Australian dollar," the researchers found.

"Domestic tourists are more likely to visit more dispersed places, but again there are no sure-fire recipes - distinctiveness is part of the game."

The study found the Northern Rivers had a headline unemployment rate of 8.2%, compared to a 6.2% national rate.

But the effective unemployment rate, taking into actual account hours worked, was much higher at 14% - down from 19% in 2010.

The average working-age adult would work 1115 hours a year in 2016, up from 1050 hours in 2010.

They would earn $8800 a year less than the national average, leaving households with $5300 less disposable income per person, the report found.

There was $644,000 of wealth per household in the Northern Rivers this year, less than the national average of $778,000.

Researchers also found shift to a "knowledge-based" economy in northern regions was being hampered by distance.

"The capacity to innovate depends on knowledge and networks at the regional level," they said.

"Most high-income countries which have maintained sustained growth have done so because they have established successful knowledge-based regions.

"Most regions are connected to the knowledge economy via a metropolitan city, either as suburbs or as hinterlands.

"An important weakness of the northern Australian regions, and hence of the country as a whole, is that they have no readily-accessible metropolitan centre through which they can be linked to the world knowledge economy." -ARM NEWSDESK

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