- Driving in to Coonabarabran and noticing the large number of motels along the main drag; and subsequently
- Discovering that the 2011 Census only recorded 68 people working in the Accommodation industry.
A first step was to attempt to clarify whether there are in fact a lot of motels in Coonabarabran. I passed on sites such as Tripadvisor and Trivago as I was unsure how places got listed there, but suspected coin of the realm was involved. Instead I consulted visitNSW. This listed 12 Motels in the town - all along the Noisy Newell. Adding in a couple of caravan parks (also on the main drag) gives an average of about 5 employees per establishment. This is probably reasonable as most of the places would be run by a couple of owners with a part time maid and a night receptionist.
I had previously found that employment in the Accommodation industry was 0.83% of the population of the town, significantly higher that the Australian value of 0.56%.
We have also noticed a lot of motels etc in our local town of Queanbeyan: the Census shows them to employ 228 people or 0.6% of the population of 37994 people (0.66% if employees in Public Administration and Safety are excluded to reflect Queanbeyan's role as a dormitory for Canberra). You have just entered the world of "Oooops! Nice try, hakuna cherooti", On looking at visitnsw for Queanbeyan only 8 motels are listed, giving an average employment of 28 people per motel: I have heard of personal service but that would be ridiculous. Obviously a lot of people in Queanbeyan must work in the motels etc that festoon Canberra,
Let us try again with the city of Dubbo. At the intersection of the Newell and Mitchell Highways it is a major crossroads in NSW and is located 400km from Sydney, so a convenient drive from that city. It is fairly isolated so the employees should all work in the city. There are 316 employees in the accommodation industry or 0.81% of the population: very similar to Coonabarabran. It is interesting that there are 34 establishments listed on visitnsw giving an average of 9 employees per establishment: while much higher than Coonabarabran several of the motels seem to be well above the capability of a "Mum and Pop" operation with 50+ rooms and in some cases mention of Conference facilities.
All of this leads me to conclude that Coonabarabran is punching above its weight WRT Motels and my first impression was correct.
I then looked at the overall employment profile of Coonabarabran (the 'a' key on my keyboard is begging for mercy by now) going for the high level Industry Divisions (eg Accommodation is part of Accommodation and Food Services.).
To my surprise Accommodation and Food Services rates as the 6th biggest Industry Division at 6.6% of the Labour Force. It is:
- smaller than Agriculture etc (25.7%) the three core public service Divisions (Health - 11.5%; Education - 10.2% and Public Administration - 7.1%) and Retail trade (10.1%); but
- larger than Construction (4.2%) and Transport (4.0%).
Having raised one common issue for country towns I decided to complete this post with another: the loss of people in the core working ages of 20-49 years. This is shown by a summary profile.
Within those three ranges the 10 year groups all show a similar relativity between the town and the nation. Clearly Coonabarabran is going to be in diabolical trouble in a couple of decades unless something happens to make the area more attractive to people in the workforce.