The Dec 2016 ABS original data for regional labour markets was released this morning and, upon analysis of the Conus Trend series, we see further confirmation of the stronger picture in the Cairns SA4 region. Even the Townsville region, whilst still very weak, sees some slight improvements.
In Cairns the Conus Trend unemployment rate has fallen for the 7th consecutive month and now stands at just 5.7% (which is below the 6% rate for QLD and the same as the Trend rate for the nation). Trend employment has increased by 600 (although all this increase comes from part-time jobs this month and the increase last month was revised slightly lower). Nevertheless Trend employment is now 4,800 higher than a year earlier. The rate of Trend employment growth stands at +4.4% for the year; this is the 3rd best result in the State.
To our south the Townsville region also saw some improvements. Trend employment was up 100 (after Nov was revised to a 200 increase from a 200 decline); Trend employment still remains down 6,300 over the year (a rate of -6.1% which is the third worst in the State). On the bright side, Trend full-time positions were up 400 in Dec, although they remain down 4,200 over the year. The Trend unemployment rate has improved to 11.8% (with Nov also revised better to 12.1%) but this is still the State’s highest rate of unemployment.
As the second chart makes abundantly clear, the recovery for Cairns is now well established. In Townsville there is still a very long way to go…but at least things appear to be moving in the right direction.
When considering the youth sector we again see sharp improvements for Cairns. Youth Trend employment rose by 800 in Dec which is the 6th consecutive month of gains and puts the total 2,200 above its level at the end of 2015. The Youth Trend unemployment rate now stands at 16.5% and has fallen from its high of 34.4% earlier this year.
In Townsville the Youth sector has been seeing a lot of weakness recently and Dec is no different. Youth Trend employment fell by 300 (the 9th consecutive month of declines) and is down 6,200 for the year. The Trend Youth unemployment rate has moved higher to 28.3% (while Nov was revised lower to 28.1%) and this remains the second worst in the State after the Outback. Of just as much concern for the region is the high level of Middle-aged unemployment; the Trend unemployment rate in the 25-44 year aged group is now the State’s worst at 12.3% (up from 12.1% in Nov).
We’ve been watching the story of a two speed labour market unfolding in QLD for some time and this month’s data reinforces that trend. When we look at full-time Trend employment we see a widening gap opening up between Greater Brisbane (where full-time jobs have increased by 13,500 over the year) and the Rest of QLD (where they have fallen by 43,200). The Government’s focus on “regional jobs” appears to be taking its time to have any real impact!
The complete set of Conus Trend data for the QLD Regions is available for download below. Please feel free to use this for non-commercial use but we would appreciate you acknowledging Conus when you do so.