Local area unemployment data for 4th quarter shows weakness

The Dept of Employment released their December quarter Small Area Labour Market (SALM) data today.

The SALM estimates are created using data from Centrelink data of people in receipt of Newstart and Youth Allowance by postcode, the ABS regional labour market data at SA4 level and the Census labour force data at SA2 level. These data sets are used to create the SALM estimations using a methodology called Structure Preserving Estimation (SPREE). Due to the highly volatile nature of this data the Dept presents the data as on a smoothed 4 quarters moving average basis.

The graph below plots those smoothed unemployment rates for our regional Local Government Areas.
150330Given that this data relates to the 4th quarter of last year we should perhaps note that the more recent unemployment data shows some significant improvements in Townsville; although the picture for the Cairns SA4 area (which includes Cairns Regional Council as well as CCRC) remains fairly static (see our commentary on the most recent Feb data here). We should also bear in mind that the data used by the Dept of Employment to create this SALM series is significantly different to that used by the ABS (and Conus) for their SA4 level employment data.

The SALM data shows smoothed unemployment for the Dec quarter in Cairns at 7.3% (up from 7.0% in the previous quarter), CCRC also at 7.3% (also up from 7.0%) and Townsville at 7.8% (up from 7.2%).

SALM is also available at a SA2 level of detail. When considering the Cassowary Coast we see that the unemployment rate in the Innisfail SA2 rose to 10.8% (from 10.4%), Johnstone was up to 6.0% (from 5.8%) while Tully (which includes Cardwell and Mission Beach, as well as Tully itself) increased to 5.5% (from 5.2%). For comparison, in Dec the national Trend Unemployment rate was 6.3% and QLD stood at 6.6%; the Conus Trend Unemployment rates for the Cairns SA4 region (which includes CCRC) was 7.8% while Townsville SA4 was 8.7%.

Looking at the labour force and unemployment numbers provided by the Dept, and then smoothing them over the 4 quarters, shows the number employed in the Cassowary Coast at just 12,596 (down from 12,726 in the previous quarter) which is a new low for the area.

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