Digging into the SALM data….

Last week we posted on the latest Small Area Labour Market (SALM) data from the Dept of Employment as it related to the Local Government Areas of Cairns, Cassowary Coast and Townsville (see here). We have had time to do further work on the latest SALM release and can now provide further detail of the data as it relates to all of the LGAs in Queensland for the June quarter.

Using the unsmoothed (original) SALM data, which is tucked away in the explanatory notes sections, we have created a Conus Trend series of unemployment rates and derived employment for all the QLD LGAs.

This shows us that the LGA with the highest Trend unemployment rate (excluding Aboriginal councils) was Charters Towers Regional Council at 11.7% (which is down from 13.0% a year earlier) with Isaac Regional Council the lowest at 2.0% (down from 2.4% a year earlier).

While the SALM data does not explicitly provide employment data it can derived from the Labour Force and Unemployment data that is provided (although we acknowledge that the different methodologies used for the estimation of unemployment and Labour Force data make such a derivation problematic we consider that the estimated Trend based on this derivation provides a useful, albeit limited, indicator for employment trends). Once we create a Conus Trend for this derived data series we see the following Trend employment increases in our Far North region LGAs for the year to June 2017 as follows:

  • Cairns Regional Council +5,298
  • Cassowary Coast Regional Council +884
  • Tablelands Regional Council +729
  • Douglas Shire Council +435
  • Mareeba Shire Council +459
  • Yarrabah Aboriginal Shire Council +110

Summing these we get an approximation for the Cairns SA4 region, for which we calculate the monthly Conus Trend Jobs series, of an increase of 7,915. This compares to an increase to June 2017 in the Conus Trend for Cairns SA4 of 11,500.

We should note that these two series cannot be easily compared since one is based on monthly ABS Labour Force Survey data while the  SALM quarterly estimates are created using data from Centrelink of people in receipt of Newstart and Youth Allowance by postcode, the ABS regional labour market data at SA4 level and the Census labour force data at SA2 level. The quarterly Conus Trend LGA data will, by its nature, be lagging behind the movements seen in the Conus Trend Jobs series. In addition, as noted above, the Trend LGA employment data needs to be treated with caution. Nevertheless it is clear that both data sets demonstrate a clear and significant improvement in the story for the Far North. Taken together the Conus Trend Jobs data for the SA4 regions and the new Conus Trend LGA data provide us with a more complete take on regional employment numbers and allows us to see more clearly where within the SA4 regions the employment changes might be taking place.

2 replies
  1. Mark Beath
    Mark Beath says:

    Somewhere the DoE suggest not deriving employment from the data. I have never understood this given that data is provided for both unemployment and labour force. However the divergence in derived employment appears inconsistent between the SALM data methodology and the ABS survey.

    • Pete Faulkner
      Pete Faulkner says:

      Mark, you’re quite right they do (and rightly so). The different methodologies used to estimate the unemployment and labour force numbers in the DoE data means that deriving employment data from them is problematic. Whilst acknowledging that, we still believe that an estimated Trend based on such derived data can give at least a limited insight into the employment picture at this more local level. However, we certainly would not want to be drawing direct comparisons between these derived numbers and any other estimates of employment (including the Conus Trend derived from the ABS Labour Force Survey data). In light of that therefore, I think that all we can really gain from this new employment data is to draw some idea of the relative scale of employment changes across regions when considered at the LGA level. Thanks for the comment. I’ve added to the post to try and make that point clearer. Cheers, Pete


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