We should all be aware by now that the labour market picture in QLD is not a happy one; according to the latest ABS data for June the State’s unemployment rate stood at 6.5% (both s.a. and Trend) against that in the nation of 5.8% (s.a) or 5.7% (Trend). The level of Underutilisation (those unemployed and also underemployed) was also slightly higher at 14.5% (s.a) versus 14.2% (s.a.) nationally (figures for May).
Over the past 12 months Trend employment has grown at 1.8% in Australia but only at 0.4% in QLD. Perhaps of more concern, full-time employment is up by 1.1% nationally but has fallen by 1.2% in the State.
It’s clear that jobs in QLD are simply not keeping up with the growth in the working population. Over the past 2 years the State’s working population has grown by 2.8% while Trend employment is up by just 0.5%. When we look at the split between Greater Brisbane and the Rest of QLD the story gets even worse. At present the Trend unemployment rate in Greater Brisbane is 5.7%; in the Rest of QLD it’s 7.2%.
Over the past 24 months Trend employment in Greater Brisbane has risen by 2.2%; in the Rest of Queensland its fallen by 1.2%. Full time employment in Greater Brisbane is up by 3.1% while in the Rest of QLD it has fallen by 2.1%.
And this isn’t just a recent phenomena. If we consider data from the past 5 years we see QLD’s working population having grown by 3.5%, but Trend employment in the Rest of QLD is up just 1.5% while in Greater Brisbane the increase is 5.5%. Five years ago there were 2.7% more people employed in the Rest of QLD than in Greater Brisbane; today there are 1.3% fewer. At that time the Trend unemployment rate in Greater Brisbane was 4.6%; in the Rest of QLD 6.2%.
What becomes obvious is that, when compared to the nation as a whole, QLD is doing badly but is doing so solely on the back of the weak regional performance. Greater Brisbane is doing at least as well, and in many cases better, than the nation.
Clearly the regions have suffered far more than Greater Brisbane as the mining investment cycle has drawn to a close. For years we have heard politicians at both State and Federal level, and from both sides of the aisle, promising more to address the issues that regional QLD faces. And yet there is no sign of anything concrete having been done. Short term, electorally driven boosts (I’m looking at you Townsville stadium) being committed to without any apparent economic analysis simply won’t cut the mustard. If we really want our regions to succeed (and that in itself is a question we must all answer honestly first) then there needs to be some serious thinking around what are the factors holding back regional economic growth, and what can be done to address them.
For more details about how some of the QLD regions are performing relative to Greater Brisbane see our post from a few days ago or download the Conus Trend QLD Regional Jobs data from the Reports page. The next Labour Force data is due for release on 18th August with the regional data (and the updated Conus Trend) released a week later.