Regional unemployment rates improve in North QLD

The release of the regional labour force data from the ABS this morning contains some good Xmas cheer for the North and Far North. As always the original ABS data is unadjusted so we need to focus our attention on the Conus Trend numbers.

In Cairns for November the Trend shows total in employment up by 100 (the first increase in six months) and with a fall in the Trend Participation Rate to 59.1 that results in the Trend unemployment rate drop from 7.8% in Oct (revised down from 8.3%) to 7.4%, which is the lowest rate in Cairns since Sept 2011. Over the course of the past 12 months we see an increase in Trend employment of 1,100, so although the Trend unemployment rate has fallen from 8%, the Employment:Working Population ration remains weak (see the graph below) at 54.7 (which is unchanged from the same time a year ago).

To our south in Townsville there is also good news. The raw ABS data for employment in Nov is so strong that we are very wary of it (employment increased by 4,900 in Nov!). Nevertheless, this jump sees the Trend employment number up by 1,300 for the month with the previous month’s Trend revised strongly up by 1,000. Even with an increase in the Trend Participation Rate to 62.3 (from 61.7), this results in the Trend unemployment rate stable at 7.2%, which in Oct has been revised down from 8.2%. The Employment”Working Population ratio has ticked higher to 58.1 but this remains well below its level a year ago (61.6). Since Nov last year we are still looking at a loss of 5,600 in Trend employment in Townsville. However, this data does suggests a sharp improvement, but given the extreme original data underlying this assessment I will want to see confirmation in coming months before reading too much into this.

As the first graph below makes clear, the differential between the Trend unemployment rates in SEQ and the rest of the state has closed significantly over the past few months.



When we consider the Cairns data in more detail (and please take extreme care when reading too much into the results of these small data-sets) we see improvements across the board.

Youth Trend unemployment has fallen sharply with the Conus Trend rate down to 13.1% (from a downwardly revised 15.1% in Oct). This is the lowest rate in Trend youth unemployment since Jan 2013. The slow steady improvement in the youth labour market in Cairns appears to still be intact.


The older (45+ years) cohort of workers in Cairns has also seen some improvement. The Trend unemployment rate has fallen slightly to 6.7% (after Oct was revised slightly higher to 6.9%).


Considering the gender split we see the Trend unemployment rate for males fall sharply to 7.5% (after Oct was revised down from 9.1% to 8.1%) while the female Trend unemployment rate also dropped to 7.2%, from an unrevised 7.5% last month.



As always, the full Conus Trend Queensland Regional Labour Market  data is available for free download (below). Please feel at liberty to use this data as you wish, but we would appreciate you acknowledging Conus when doing so.

QLD Regions Jobs data – Conus Trend Nov 2015

This will be my last blog post until Christmas, so would like to take this opportunity to wish all readers a Very Merry Christmas.

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