THE Gold Coast now has one of Australia's strongest jobs markets, and Mayor Tom Tate is not taking a backward step in claiming some of the glory.
Latest statistics for December show the jobless rate in the city has fallen to 5.3 per cent, well below Queensland's unemployment rate of 5.9 per cent, seasonally adjusted.
The jobs have largely come from construction, although Tate says growth has been across the board, including tourism, education, health and the film production sector.
The December figures show more than 15,000 jobs have been added to the city's economy in the past 12 months, or about 1250 a month.
Tate says the latest data builds on the momentum created by the council three years ago when it launched the Construction Kickstart program to bring developments to fruition through discounts on infrastructure charges.
That program has been credited with helping to keep the Gold Coast unemployment rate below the state average in recent years. However, Tate says he sees further improvement ahead.
"When we came into government three and a half years ago we hit the ground running," Tate says.
"The result is we've created certainty, and from certainty comes confidence and with confidence comes investment and now comes jobs.
"I think there will be more jobs created. As we march towards the Commonwealth Games in 2018, the future is bright for the Gold Coast."
Tate is not calling it a boom, although he says the severe economic downturn encountered by the Gold Coast in the wake of the GFC in 2009 is 'well behind us'.
"This isn't a boom. This is a steady increase in the economy and a recognition that the Gold Coast has come of age.
"I have always said that when the Gold Coast's economy fires, Queensland hums and that's what we are seeing right now.
"This jobs bonanza is no accident. It has taken careful planning and a sleeves-rolled-up approach from council and private enterprise."
Tate, who addressed a media briefing at Crema Espresso at Main Beach, says while the unemployment rate is the lowest in 20 years, there is 'more room to go', particularly youth unemployment which he says remains an issue.
Crema Espresso is among a number of businesses benefiting from new council employment initiatives, including the Business Accelerator program.
Antony Forbutt, managing director of the Gold Coast-based coffee franchise group, says the program has set the business up for continued growth, with immediate plans to boost its franchise network from 15 to 18 stores including openings in Toowoomba and the Sunshine Coast.
"We're aiming at the top end of the market and we're seeing substantial growth with the coffee market moving in that direction," says Forbutt.
He describes the council's Business Accelerator program as 'absolutely timely for our small business'.
"They brought in KPMG to assist us in doing a forward business plan and it's really starting to show dividends for us.
"We're on the cusp of really expanding. We have three more stores opening in the next few months."
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