Cairns Trend unemployment rate lifts to 5.6%

Today saw the release of the August original, unadjusted labour force data for the SA4 regions from the ABS. As always, we need to consider this highly volatile series in light of the Conus Trend.

In Cairns we see the headline Trend unemployment rate lift slightly to 5.6% (after July was revised up to 5.3%) despite another small increase in Trend employment (up just 100). As we have been saying for a few months, we could not see the Trend unemployment rate in Cairns falling much further while the Trend Participation Rate continued to edge higher (as it has again this month to 62.9). With more people entering the labour market it is unrealistic to expect the Trend unemployment rate to continue falling quite so spectacularly so this month’s slight reversal is very much in line with what we have been expecting to see for some time.

Over the course of the year we have seen 10,300 new employed positions added with an impressive 9,800 of those being full-time. Indeed this month’s data shows a healthy 800 lift in full-time positions being largely offset by a similar decline in part-time.

Youth Trend unemployment has also lifted slightly this month to 14.1% which is a little above the average for the Rest of Queensland, but is still well down from a year ago when it sat at 26.4%.

Townsville too sees a slight reverse from earlier lows; although here there remains plenty of scope for falls yet to come. Trend jobs increased by another 600 in August (all of which were full-time) but the sharp increase in Trend Participation (to 63.2) saw the Trend unemployment rate edge higher to 7.3% (after July was revised up to 7.2%). Townsville has managed to add 16,200 new positions in the past 12 months yet with the unemployment rate still relatively high there is clearly scope for further improvements in coping months.

When we consider the split between Greater Brisbane and the Rest of Queensland we see the out-performance of the regions writ large. In the past year Trend employment in Greater Brisbane has risen by 33,200 but full-time positions have fallen by 4,200. Trend unemployment has risen by 0.9% to 6.4% over the year. In the Rest of Queensland Trend employment is up by 54,000 for the year with 38,700 of those full-time positions; the Trend unemployment rate has fallen by 1.0% to 5.8%. Regions such as Townsville, Cairns, Mackay, Toowoomba and the Sunshine Coast have all contributed with Trend employment growth in excess of 7% while in Greater Brisbane it languishes at 2.8% y/y.

Today also saw the release by the ABS of the Quarterly data on industry jobs. These are presented for the regions on a 4-quarters smoothed basis, and as such are an extremely lagged indicator. In response to this we have created the Conus Trend Industry Jobs series which dis-aggregates the 4 quarters average data, Trends that and makes some adjustments for consistency with the original, quarterly ABS data for QLD. As a result the series gives us a far better idea of recent movements in the regional industry data. However, it should be noted that this quarterly data series should not be compared directly with the Conus Trend Jobs data which is created monthly. Nevertheless, the two series should paint similar pictures, and that is indeed the case. For example the Conus Trend Industry Jobs data for August suggests Cairns saw a total increase in employment of 8,000 over the past 4 quarters. That compares to the Conus Trend Jobs data which has employment up 9,500 in the same period.

Considering this data set we see that the industries which saw the best growth for the year in Cairns were Accommodation & Food (up 1,500), Construction (up 3,100), Healthcare (up 1,800) and Public Administration (up 1,800). Industries which saw losses were Agriculture (down 1,600) and Mining (down 1,100). The largest employing industry remains the Healthcare sector (14,600 employed) with Retail Trade and Education just behind at 12,400. Employment in the Construction sector sits at 12,000 which is its highest level since May 2013.

In Townsville there were no major losers with the best gains seen in Accommodation & Food (up 5,400), Construction (up 2,600) Healthcare (up 2,000) and Public Administration (up 1,500). The largest employing industry is Healthcare (16,700 employed) with Accommodation & Food at distant second at 12,800.

The full Conus Trend Jobs data set is available for download below. Please feel free to use this data (for non-commercial purposes) but we would appreciate you acknowledging Conus when you do so. The Conus Trend Industry Jobs data is available by subscription and at request.

Conus Trend Regional Jobs QLD – Aug 2017

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