IT'S been a tough few years for the Rockhampton region's economy.
And new figures, obtained by The Morning Bulletin, demonstrate just how hard thousands of Central Queenslanders are doing it with a dramatic surge in the number of people receiving welfare in the Capricorn region.
The Labour Market Conditions in the Rockhampton Region report shows an increase of 36% in welfare recipients over three years from 5165 people in March, 2013 to 7001 in March, 2016.
That's a jump of 1836 people.
The lift saw the proportion of the region's working age population (WAP) rise to 9%, above the state average of 8.5%.
The report was completed in May 2016, however it's understood details have not been publicly released at this stage.
The data doesn't break down to what type of Centrelink payment is being made.
The chart below shows the pay scale for people on Newstart Allowance.
Since the report, there has been signs of an improving regional economy and just last week Keppel MP Brittany Lauga issued a media release saying employment rates had dropped in the Fitzroy region.
Mrs Lauga said the overall unemployment rate for the Fitzroy area, for the 12-month period to November 2016, fell 1.7% down to 5.9%.
She said the Queensland Treasury's regional jobless rates for youth in the Fitzroy statistical region (taking in Rockhampton and Keppel electorates) fell over the same period by 4.2% to 9.8% (well below the state average of 13.5%).
In the Labour Market Conditions report, the Capricorn region is classified as Rockhampton and Livingstone local government areas.
Importantly, the report showed education levels are improving across the region.
The five-year change for the region shows an increase of 3% to 52% for the number of people obtaining a Certificate III or above.
Meanwhile, the number of people not completing Year 12 at school dropped 4% to 32%. This number is well above the state average of 26%.
The Morning Bulletin will seek comment from Centrelink to see if recipient numbers have improved since the report was finalised and also the thoughts of local community leaders.