In all the excitement (?) of the Local Government elections last month we missed the release of the Dec quarter SALM data from the Dept of Employment.
The SALM data is based on a range of indicators including ABS Labour Force data for the SA4 areas, youth and Newstart allowance data and the 2011 Census data at the SA2 level. As such this series cannot be directly compared with the ABS unemployment rates at the SA4 area level (or the Conus Trend series which is derived from that data). The data is presented on a smoothed basis where the series is smoothed over a four quarter basis to remove regional volatility.
For the December 2015 quarter SALM shows the Cassowary Coast Regional Council area with an unemployment rate of 7.9% (down from 8.0%), Cairns Regional Council area at 7.2% (down from 7.4%) and Townsville City Council area at 7.5% (down from 7.9%). Although these LGA areas do not correspond to the SA4 regions used for the Conus Trend Labour Market series it is perhaps worth noting that as at Dec 2015 the Conus Trend unemployment rates for Cairns SA4 sat at 7.5% (and has since risen to 7.7%) while Townsville SA4 was also at 7.5% (and has subsequently risen to 7.6%). This would suggest that when we get the March 2016 data (due in early June) we are unlikely to see the SALM unemployment rates for any of the Far North LGAs falling far (if at all).
Looking at the SA2 details for the CCRC region we see Innisfail’s unemployment rate at 11.6% (down from 11.8%), Johnstone unchanged at 6.4% and Tully (which includes Tully, Mission Beach and Cardwell) at 6.2% (down from 6.3%). Innisfail, which accounts for just over 30% of the region’s labour force, is the problem area for employment while further south things are looking somewhat brighter.