Cairns unemployment rate hits 43 month low of 7.2%

The ABS regional labour market data released this morning confirms the ongoing improvement in the jobs market in Cairns (see here for last month’s post). As always the raw unadjusted data needs to be set aside in favour of our Conus Trend series to get a true picture of what is happening.

In April Trend employment in Cairns (SA4 region) was up 600 to 109,200, while the March figure was revised up by 200. Interestingly most of this employment growth would appear to have come in the youth sector (see commentary below for details). The Trend unemployment rate stands at 7.2% (it’s lowest level since Sept 2011) after the March figure was also revised lower to 7.2% from 7.5%. The Trend Participation rate was 60.2 (up slightly after March was revised down slightly) and we see the Employment:Working Population ratio improve for the 4th consecutive month to 55.7. These are unambiguously good numbers for the region.

The same cannot be said for Townsville where Trend employment numbers were almost static with downward revisions to previous months, although here too the Trend unemployment rate has fallen. Trend employment in Townsville rose just 100 to 113,400 while a 300 increase in March was revised to a 100 decline. A fall in the Trend Participation Rate to 66.2 helped the Trend unemployment rate fall to 7.4% (from a downwardly revised 7.7% in March); this puts Townsville in 6th place behind Wide Bay (12.2%), Logan-Beaudesert (10.1%), Mackay (9%), Fitzroy (7.7%) and Moreton Bay North (7.6%).

However, as the second chart below makes clear, when looking at the two regions through the lens of the Employment:Working Population metric Cairns remains well behind its southern rival.

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The even more volatile ABS data for youth in Cairns also shows some real improvements when looking at the Conus Trend data. Here we see the Trend Youth unemployment rate down to 18.3% (after March was revised to 19.3% from 21.3%); this is the lowest Trend unemployment rate in over 2 years. Trend youth employment was up 400 after an increase of 300 last month. The Brotherhood of St Laurence preferred 12 month moving average has also fallen to 20.7%.

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Last month we began creating a Conus Trend series for both male and female labour force data in Cairns. This month we see the Trend male unemployment rate at 8.3% (down from 8.5%) while the female rate is 6.2% (up from 5.8%). The trend we noted last month of the two rates moving in opposite directions remains firmly in place.

While both males and females saw Trend employment increase (+300 and +400 respectively) it was an increase in the female Trend Participation Rate that was the reason behind the female unemployment rate increase.

NOTE: Male and female Trend data may not always sum to the Cairns Trend numbers due to rounding and a slight difference in the methodology used to calculate both.

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The full Conus Trend data for all the SA4 regions in Queensland is available for download here. Feel free to use this data but please acknowledge Conus when doing so. QLD Regions Jobs data – Conus Trend Apr 2015

The full data series for the Conus Trend Male and Female in Cairns is available by request.

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