Lifestyle Putting the brakes on FIFO

Putting the brakes on FIFO

The availability of rental accommodation and quality education and medical services are key factors in persuading long-distance workers to settle down, according to academics from James Cook University (JCU).

It is estimated between 75,000 and 90,000 people take part in long distance commuting – either fly-in, fly-out or drive-in, drive-out. The JCU study was designed to inform regional towns and policymakers seeking to reduce the use of long distance workers and encourage employees to live locally.

PhD candidate Christopher Nicholas said the availability of rental accommodation, quality service provision – measured by the number of students per teacher and the number of people per medical practitioner – encourages workers to move to a region and discourages long distance commuting.

“We found that higher house prices didn’t discourage workers from living in a work region,” said Mr Nicholas.

But the presence of too many other long distance workers was a vicious circle. A high turnover of the resident population erodes social capital in regions, making them less attractive to relocate to. The researchers said it was already well established that long distance workers do not generally spend much of their wages in the host region, giving rise to the ‘hollow economy’ syndrome.

“If government’s goal is to minimise the hollow economy syndrome and convince workers to migrate rather than adopt long distance commuting, we think policymakers’ best course is to instead improve local service provision and/or increase rental accommodation in the host region,” Mr Nicholas said.

Mr Nicholas co-authored the study with JCU Associate Professor Riccardo Welters.

Read more about the JCU study here. Story credit: James Cook University newsroom.

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