Public sector workers such as teachers, nurses, firefighters and police could be the lifeblood of some local economies, especially during challenging economic times like the Black Summer bushfires and the COVID pandemic, according to a report the South Coast Labor Council (SCLC) released today.

Eurobodalla Labor for Council said the SCLC-commissioned University of Wollongong report measured the importance of public sector workers’ contributions to their local economies, including that of the Eurobodalla Shire.

Providing the economic foundations for our regions: the impact of pubic sector employment on regional labour markets and economies studied the annual contribution of public sector income to the Gross Regional Product of nine local government areas (LGAs): Bega Valley, Eurobodalla, Snowy Monaro, Queanbeyan-Palerang, Shoalhaven, Wingecarribee, Kiama, Shellharbour, and Wollongong  between 2015-16 to 2020-21.

“Whether it’s the teacher, the nurse, the Services NSW staffer, the police officer or the council worker among others — they’re all pubic sector workers who make important and valuable contributions to their local economies,” said Labor’s Eurobodalla Mayoral candidate David Grace.

“This report found most public sector workers spend about 80 per cent of their income in their local economy — shopping, petrol, restaurants and trades/services among many regular purchases.

“One of Labor’s key policies for the Eurobodalla Shire Council is to provide as much support to our local small businesses affected so badly by the double hit of Black Summer bushfires and then the prolonged COVID pandemic, both through direct support, and by harnessing state and federal agencies’ support.

“Fortunately for many of Eurobodalla’s small businesses and their employees, the relative stability of public sector employment and income throughout the year means regular spending by these families doing, for example, their weekly shopping or filling their cars up with petrol at local outlets.

“In our shire of almost 40,000 residents, about 16 per cent of working people are in the public sector; that’s a valuable contribution to the local economy,” Mr Grace said.

The report provides evidence that during prolonged crises such as bushfires and COVID-19, public sector employees’ paychecks provide stimulus to their local communities.

“And remember that during the bushfires, it was public sector workers who were re-deployed from their normal roles to help establish and service evacuation centres; who worked incredibly long hours helping farmers and home owners lodge claims for assistance; and who during the worst of COVID, stayed open until the last customer applying for JobSeeker was processed each day,” Mr Grace said.

“Public sector employees work, live, and spend locally all year round.

“These workers make both a larger contribution to regional labour markets as well as regional economic activity compared to that for Greater Sydney or Australia as a whole.

“Whereas public sector employment comprises 13% of total Greater Sydney employment and 15% of Australian employment, public sector employment exceeds 16% of Eurobodalla’s total workforce, and contributes more than 9% of the shire’s gross regional product.

The Labor candidates in addition to David Grace are Maureen Searson, Matthew Findlay, Claire McAsh, Deirdre Russack and Jack Egan.

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