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Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester has welcomed the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) showing an employment boom in Gippsland and the lowest rate for the jobless rate for the Latrobe Valley since 2015.

Mr Chester said the Federal Government had partnered with local businesses and delivered almost $20 million to the private sector to grow existing enterprises and create new positions.

He said record investment in local infrastructure had also created construction jobs and would continue to deliver a stronger economy into the future.

“I’ve been able to secure a record $1 billion for public infrastructure across Gippsland, including $504 million for Gippsland rail upgrades which are yet to commence,” Mr Chester said.

“Major projects like the Princes Highway duplication and RAAF Base East Sale upgrades, coupled with smaller local projects like the Morwell Recreation Reserve, Morwell-Traralgon Shared Pathway and Rosedale Revitalisation Project, have provided a jobs boost for the region across a range of sectors, with local contractors securing much of the work.

“Continued investment in the National Disability Insurance Scheme, Gippsland Cancer Care Centre and expansion of Latrobe Regional Hospital will also underpin jobs locally in the health sector.

“And  it’s important as a community we keep putting locals first and supporting local retailers, tradespeople and service providers to keep more money in our community.

“It is estimated that for every dollar spent in a local business, 42 cents is reinvested in the local community, which leads to more jobs and more support for charities, schools and sports clubs.”

ABS Labour Force Survey statistics published for April 2019 show the unemployment rate in Gippsland is down to 4.7 percent, lower than the national average of 5.2 percent.

At a local government level, the Small Area Labour Market Figures reveal unemployment rates have fallen in Latrobe City over the two years leading to December 2018.

“It is pleasing to see the unemployment rate continue to drop and to see more local people are able to find a job,” Mr Chester said.

“But there’s always more to be done.

“We have many ongoing funding commitments to new projects that will support construction jobs over the new few years. Looking further into the future, we must protect the jobs in our traditional industries while always looking at new investment that might be suited to our region.

“Growing the visitor economy will be a focus, with investment in attractions and activities on public land that improve the liveability of the region and create more opportunities for people to visit Gippsland and stay longer.”

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