After the disappointing April labour force data for QLD released last week (see here) which saw the State unemployment rate lift to 6.5% we were bracing for some weak regional data today. The reality was worse then we had been expecting.
As always when considering the ABS Regional Labour Force Data we must focus our attention on the Conus Trend series rather than the (highly volatile) ABS original data. What we see in April are significant declines.
In Cairns the Conus Trend Employment data shows a 400 decline (with March revised lower). The total Trend Employed now sits at 108,500 which is 100 below the level seen a year ago. The Trend Unemployment Rate has risen to 9.3% with March revised up to 8.8%; Cairns now sits as 4th worst in QLD. The ABS original data sat at 9.8%
The story in Townsville is far worse still. Here we see the Trend Employment number slide to 98,400 (down 1,500 from March) which is a thumping 11,900 lower than a year ago and the lowest Trend Employment number since Jan 2005. The unemployment rate would be even worse were it not for a sharp fall in the Trend Participation Rate which is now at its lowest level since we started Conus Trend calculations in Oct 1998. Townsville now has the highest level of Trend Unemployment in the State at 10.5%. The ABS original data was a shocking 13.9%!
As the second graph below clearly shows, the employment situation in both Cairns and (particularly) Townsville are at shocking levels.
Looking into the Cairns data in more detail we see a very worrying story when we consider Youth. Youth (15-24 year old) Trend Employment has again fallen in April (the 8th consecutive month of declines) with the Youth Trend Unemployment Rate soaring to 32% (from 31.7% in March, which was also revised sharply higher). The widely considered 12 month moving average youth unemployment rate in Cairns is now above 24% for the first time.
The older cohort of workers (45+ years) has fared better despite Trend Employment falling for the second month. The Conus Trend Unemployment Rate for the older cohort rose just slightly to 4.4% (after March was revised down from 4.4%).
The full Conus Trend Queensland Regional Labour Force data is available for free download below and on our Reports page. Please feel free to use this data as you wish but kindly acknowledge Conus if you do so.