Cairns unemployment rate falls but jobs being lost

The ABS November regional labour force data today confirms a worrying trend for the Cairns region. As we noted last month (see here), the region is failing to see any jobs growth and the fall in the unemployment rate is all due to an ongoing collapse in the Participation Rate.

The unadjusted ABS data shows the unemployment rate at 6.7% (down from 9.1% last month) with 500 new jobs created. However, as always, this data series is far too volatile to be of any real use. Rather we must consider the Conus Trend, and here we see the unemployment rate at 7.2% (down from 7.4%, which was itself revised from 8%). However, the reason for the fall in the unemployment rate can be slated to a dramatic decline in the Conus Trend Participation Rate which has fallen to a new record low of just 59.7 (down from 60.1 previously). The Conus Trend Employment data shows the region lost another 900 jobs last month after a 1,100 decline in October. So far this year the Cairns region has lost 2,000 according to the Trend data; this at a time when Trend Working Population is up by 2,600.

By comparison to our South, Townsville now has the highest Conus Trend Unemployment Rate in Queensland despite adding 7,300 jobs this year to date. The Conus Trend Unemployment Rate now stands at 9.7% (down from 10.0% last month). Conus Trend Employment was unchanged in November but the Trend Participation Rate rose again to 69 (from 68.8). It is this rise in PR which is the reason for the apparent “weakness” in the unemployment rate data despite the region having added over twice as many jobs as new entrants to the working population this year. While the Conus Trend PR in Cairns has fallen by 2.4 points this year, in Townsville it is up by 5.3 points. The first graph below, which compares the Trend employment:working population ratios, makes the difference clear.

The full spreadsheet with all the Queensland Regional Conus Trend data is available for download below. Feel free to use the data but please ensure that you acknowledge Conus when doing so.
QLD Regions Jobs data – Conus Trend Nov 2014

The story for youth unemployment in Cairns shows some minor improvement. The unadjusted unemployment rate from the ABS stood at 22.1% but the Conus Trend shows the rate at 21.0% (down from 22.1% in October, although this figure was revised higher).

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