The ABS release of regional labour market data has shown the Cairns region performed remarkably well in July despite the national and state weakness that we saw last week (see here for our comments at the time). The headline, unadjusted data might appear unbelievably good but when we see through that and look at the Conus Trend series an encouraging story unfolds.
The headline unemployment rate fell to 7.0% (from 8.2% in June) while the number employed was up 4,300 (after a 6,600 decline last month). The number unemployed fell by 1,200 to 8,500 while the Participation Rate jumped to 62.7 from 61.2. These wild swings are indeed too good (and too volatile) to take seriously.
The Conus Trend series shows us a more believable story, and continues the improving trend discussed last month (see here). Trend employment rose by 600 (slightly down from a 800 increase in June), unemployment was up 100 to 9,100 (while the June number was revised from 9,300 to 9,000) and the Participation Rate was stable at 62.1 (after June was revised up from 61.5). All this combines to see a Trend unemployment rate of 7.4%; this is down from 7.5% in June (itself revised down from 7.6%). The Conus Trend unemployment rate in Cairns has now fallen from 8.6% at the start of this year. This result means that Cairns now sits in 7th place in QLD regions for their unemployment rates behind Ipswich (9.9%), Moreton Bay – North (9.1%), Wide Bay (9.0%), Townsville (8.7%), Logan-Beaudesert (8.3%) and Sunshine Coast (7.8%).
UPDATE…Mark Beath over at Loose Change has taken a look at the Cairns Participation Rate relative to QLD’s
To our south things are nothing like as bright. In Townsville the Conus Trend unemployment rate stood at 8.7%; up from an upwardly revised 8.3% in June. On a brighter note Trend employment in Townsville has increased by 1,100 although this is a fall from the 1,300 seen in June. Townsville now sits in 4th place for QLD regions trend unemployment rates.
The full Excel spreadsheet for Conus Trend employment and unemployment rate data is available for download below. Please feel free to use this data (for non-commercial use) but kindly acknowledge Conus if you do so.
The headline data for Cairns Youth looks somewhat worse with the unemployment rate up to 20.2% (from 17.5% in June) and Participation down. However, the Trend data shows that the (slow) recovery remains in place even here. The Conus Trend unemployment rate for youth in Cairns fell to 15.8% (from an upwardly revised 16.3% in June). Even the Brotherhood of St Laurence preferred measure of a 12 month moving average shows improvement (as it did last month) and now stands at 20.0% (down from 21.8% in April this year). The more reliable Conus Trend data shows a decline in the unemployment rate for youth from 25.2% in July last year; a reduction of almost 10% over the year!