Dept of Social Service payment data confirms improvement in Cairns

Three weeks ago I wrote about some initial analysis of Dept of Social Service allowance payment data. Since then I have been in touch with the Dept to obtain some older data and they have also released their latest numbers for September; so here’s a more complete and up-to-date look at the data.

When looking at data for our region we have summed the totals for the Atherton, Cairns, Innisfail, Mareeba, Mossman and Yarrabah Service Zones. These Service Zones, when taken together, may not precisely correspond to the Cairns SA4 region but would appear to be as good an approximation as we can get.

It also needs stressing that how the Dept of Social Service count those who are seeking jobs and receiving allowances is very different from how the ABS define someone as unemployed. The rules around who receives what allowance also change over time so this is a data set that has to be treated with caution if making comparisons over periods when changes have occurred. The Dept data is provided on an unadjusted, original basis and we have therefore created a Conus Trend series for both the number of Job Seekers and the Job Seeker Rate (to calculate this we have used the Conus Trend Labour Force data for the Cairns SA4 region). As a result of all these caveats we stress that the absolute levels may be difficult to reconcile with other measures, but the movements in Trends (at least over periods when rules don’t change) can provide us with useful supporting evidence.

Bearing all that in mind what we see from the graphs below is that the number of Job Seekers has at least stabilised below highs (and may be falling slightly) while the Job Seeker Rate is clearly declining; it sits at 8.3% in September while the Conus Trend Unemployment Rate is at 8.4%. The Dept’s allowance payment data certainly appears to support the picture painted by the Conus Trend data (see here for analysis of the Sept numbers) that there are improvements underway in the Cairns labour force.



2 replies
    • Pete Faulkner
      Pete Faulkner says:

      Thanks Mark, yep, as you say changes to who gets the allowances over time makes long-term comparison within this data set pretty pointless. Having said that, there haven’t been any changes in recent months and therefore the reduction in payment recipients would appear to back-up the improving employment story that’s been in place since mid-year in Cairns. Good to see that HTW’s Cairns Watch has caught up with the drop in unemployment rate too and have sharply revised down their previous month rates. Cheers, Pete


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