Regional jobs data shows Cairns improving

The ABS today released their unadjusted March regional labour force data. The headline data for Cairns showed the unemployment rate stable at 7.9%, while Townsville saw unemployment jump to 9.2% (from 7.7% last month). However, as always, these unadjusted numbers need to be considered at the Conus Trend level to get any genuine sense of what is happening; and doing so shows both Cairns and Townsville improving.

The Conus Trend employment data for Cairns shows a total of 108,400 in work, an increase of 900 from Feb (with Feb’s rise revised up to 1,100 from 700); Trend employment now sits at a 9 month high. The Conus Trend unemployment rate comes in at 7.5%, which is unchanged from Feb (although Feb was revised down from 7.8%, Jan was also revised lower to 7.6%). What is particularly encouraging is to see the Cairns Trend Participation Rate increasing (it now stands at 60.2 and has increased for the past three months); in addition we have seen the Trend Employment:Working Population ratio increase to 55.5 (also the third consecutive month’s increase). The second graph below makes it clear that, although this measure remains low, the trend is certainly improving.

In Townsville, despite the weak headline number, the Conus Trend employment data shows 114,000 in work (a high since June 2013) with 300 new workers this month (and Feb revised up by 300 to a 100 increase). The Trend unemployment rate is now at 8.0% which is a fall from 8.2% in Feb (although this was revised up from 7.5%) and places Townsville in fifth place in the State behind Wide Bay (13.1%), Logan-Beaudesert (9.8%), Mackay (8.7%) and Moreton Bay-North (8.6%). The unemployment rate in Townsville continues to be pushed upward partly in response to the high Participation Rate but the Employment:Working Population ratio (see second graph) has moved higher again and sits well above the norm for outside of Greater Brisbane.

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The full Conus Trend Labour Force data spreadsheet, with details for all the SA2 regions in Queensland, is available for download  Please feel free to use this data but kindly acknowledge Conus when you do so. QLD Regions Jobs data – Conus Trend Mar 2015

Youth employment data for Cairns is a somewhat mixed picture. The headline, unadjusted unemployment rate for March was 21.5% (unchanged from Feb) but our own Trend analysis shows the number of youth employed fell slightly in March (by 40) after Feb’s numbers were revised weaker to a fall of 140. The Conus Trend Youth unemployment rate fell to 21.3%, although this was only because of an upward revision to 21.6 for the Feb data. The 12 month moving average (the measure preferred by the Brotherhood of St Laurence) now sits at 21.1%.

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