Small Area Labour Market data supports improving jobs story in Q1 for Far North

After yesterday’s disappointing regional data for May (see here) it is encouraging to see the quarterly Dept of Employment Small Area Labour Market (SALM) data for the first quarter of this year confirm the generally positive trend that we have been witnessing earlier this year.

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 for both SA2 areas and Local Government Areas.

The graph below plots those smoothed unemployment rates for our regional Local Government Areas and clearly shows the improving pattern we have been seeing in the Far North, while Townsville has seen significant deterioration.

Cairns LGA fell to 6.9% (from 7.3%), Cassowary Coast was down to 7.0% (from 7.3%) while Townsville jumped to 8.1% (from 7.8%). When we consider the SA2 areas within the Cassowary Coast we also see improvements in all areas. Innisfail falls to 10.4% (from 10.8%), Johnstone to 5.7% (from 6%) and Tully (which includes Tully, Cardwell and Mission Beach) to 5.4% (from 5.5%). Babinda (into which some of the northern areas of the CCRC falls) was down to 5.8% (from 6.4%). To give some idea of the relative sizes of the areas, the labour forces for each are:-

  • Innisfail: 4,185
  • Johnstone: 3,856
  • Tully: 5,101

For those who believe that the Cassowary Coast is having a hard time with unemployment it is worth noting that there are a total of 36 LGAs where the unemployment rate is higher than in the CCRC. These include places such as Noosa, Whitsunday, Sunshine Coast, Rockhampton, Ipswich, Charters Towers, Logan, Fraser Coast, Tablelands, Mareeba, Bundaberg, Burdekin, Hinchinbrook, Gympie and Townsville (amongst others).

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