Our own Conus Trend series for Cairns SA4, based on the original ABS regional data, showed a reduction in Trend unemployment in October to 7.3%. The Dept of Social Security payment recipients data released on Weds appears somewhat less positive. Although recipient numbers fell the Conus Trend series showed a small uptick and, as a result, the Conus Trend Job Seeker rate remains unchanged at 8.4%.
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.
If the original data from the Dept for Nov confirms the decline seen in Oct then we can expect to see the Conus Trend revised downward next month and the Trend declines seen in unemployment supported by this (very different) data set.