Cairns jobs worsen while Townsville sees improvement

NOTE regarding the ABS revisions to Sept and their impact on Conus Trend figures.

The revisions to the ABS data for Sept and the preceding months, announced a few days ago and discussed here, have inevitably had an impact on the Conus Trend data for Sept. It is therefore worth noting those revisions before we consider the impact of today’s release of the October regional jobs data.

In Cairns the revisions mean that the Conus Trend Employment number for Sept worsened to a fall of 300 in the month (previously  a decline of 100). That change, and the revisions to earlier months, means that Cairns has generated an increase in Trend jobs of 2,400 (down from 3,200) in the year to Sept. The Conus Trend employment to working population measure fell to 56.7 (from 57.0).

Similar downward revisions were seen in the Townsville data where Trend employment growth fell to 200 (from 300) in Sept and the employment to working population measure fell to 60.9 (from 61.2).

Changes between Oct and Sept data discussed below will relate to these revised Sept figures.

October Regional Jobs Data

In light of the shocking October jobs data for Queensland released last week (see here for details) it is perhaps no surprise to see our regional jobs data also much weaker. The headline, unadjusted unemployment rate in Cairns has jumped to 9.1% from 7.6%. However, as always, this series is so volatile as to be virtually meaningless. We must consider the Conus Trend data. What that shows is a sharp deterioration in the Cairns region but a surprising dramatic improvement in Townsville.

The Conus Trend employment series for Cairns shows that the number in jobs fell in Oct by 900 (the fourth consecutive monthly decline) and that Cairns has now shed 400 jobs since the start of the year; this at a time when the Trend working age population has increased by 2,700 people. Even with Trend Participation falling to a new record low (since Jan ’99 when our Trend data begins) of just 60.9 the Conus Trend Unemployment Rate has risen to 8% (up from 7.9% last month, that was itself revised up from 7.5%). As we commented last month, it is now clear that the emerging jobs recovery that we had started to see in Cairns earlier in the year has come to a grinding halt and is now deteriorating again.

To our south things look distinctly better. Although the unemployment rate remains elevated in Townsville, the jobs growth and improving Participation we made note of last month has now started to impact on the headline data. The raw ABS unemployment rate fell to 7.9% (from 9.6%) and this strength is reflected in the Conus Trend series. Trend employment grew in Oct by 700 (with Sept revised up strongly to +1,000) which brings the total for the year to date to +8,000. The Trend Unemployment Rate has fallen to 9.6% (from a downwardly revised 9.8% in Sept). This is particularly impressive when we consider that Trend Participation was up strongly to 69.3%.

Comparing with other regions in Queensland Trend Unemployment rates Townsville is now in 2nd place (behind Wide Bay at 10.6%) and Cairns in 5th with Logan (8.5%) and Moreton Bay North (8.4%) also worse.

The full Conus Trend Regional Jobs spreadsheet is now available for download here and on our Reports page. Please feel free to use the data for non-commercial use but acknowledge Conus when you do so. QLD Regions Jobs data – Conus Trend Oct 2014


Youth unemployment data is rather more encouraging. The raw data shows a headline unemployment rate of 20.3% (down from 29.9% in Sept). The Conus Trend data also shows improvement with the Youth Unemployment Rate falling to 20.8% from a downwardly revised 21.2% last month.


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