NEW migration statistics have confirmed thousands of people left Gladstone at the end of the LNG boom. But they also show nearly as many people have moved to the city.
Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows in the 2015-16 year 6020 people moved away from Gladstone, but 4707 people moved to the city.
The figures do not include population growth from births and deaths or foreign migration.
Regional Development Australia Fitzroy and Central West executive officer Kalair McArthur said when construction workers left the region it often meant family members in more stable jobs also moved away.
"If a couple moved to Gladstone for construction it wasn't that common for both people to work in the sector,” she said.
"More often one worked on the LNG plants and the other in something like retail, education or health. So when those couples left Gladstone those jobs outside the construction sector were still there and they needed filling.
"Now people are finding that Gladstone is offering those types of jobs that are quite stable combined with very affordable housing prices.”
Regional Australia Institute chief Jack Archer said Gladstone's population downturn was occurring in mining towns throughout Queensland.
"This has been a common trend for most places in north Queensland that saw major population growth during the mining boon,” he said.
"We expect this trend to end in Gladstone and that it will return to more measured growth over the next five years as the worst of the cycle passes the city by and growth steadily returns.
Ms McArthur said despite the LNG boom's end, the work on the Gladstone Port meant the city was well positioned to become a freight hub for northern Australia.
"Instead of having all produce go into the Port of Brisbane, which is increasingly overcrowded, we could be bringing ships into Gladstone,” she said.
"That could put Gladstone in a position to take freight for Townsville, Cairns and Darwin.”
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