Regional Building Approvals improve slightly in the North

Today saw the release of the March regional building approvals data from the ABS at both SA4 and LGA level. Following the (very) modest improvement in the Trend data at a state level last week (see here for details) we have seen a similar story emerge in the Far North.

Starting with the SA4 level data we see the Cairns Conus Trend improve to 77, after Feb was revised up from 71 to 75. Townsville fell very slightly to 70, but only after Feb was revised up from 67 to 71.

At the Local Government level we also see improvements. Cairns Regional Council (incl Douglas Shire) improved to 49 (Feb revised to 47 from 40). Tablelands Regional Council (incl Mareeba Shire) dipped to 18 (Feb revised up from 18 to 19). The Cassowary Coast Regional Council was unchanged at 6 while Townsville City Council was also unchanged at 67 (although Feb was revised up to 67 from 62).

Looking at the split across the State we see that this generally positive move in the North has occurred in the face of a somewhat weaker picture across the Rest of Queensland.

The full SA4 data set for the Conus Trend series for Queensland is available for download below. Please feel free to use this data (for non-commercial uses) but we would appreciate you acknowledging Conus when you do so.

Conus Trend Regional Building Approvals QLD – March 2017

Building Approvals disappoint, but the Trend turns positive

Today’s building approvals data for March have come in well below market expectations, although the Trends at both state and national level were positive for the month; the first time they’ve both been positive since early 2016..

March’s approvals across the nation fell by 13.4% for the month (expected down 3.9%) after an 8.9% pickup in Feb. This takes the seasonally adjusted yearly figure to a 19.9% decline. The weak numbers are on the back of weak (volatile) units data. When we consider the Trend series (which smooths out much of the volatility caused by the lumpiness of the units data) we see an increase of 0.8% for the month, year on year levels remain down 13.1%.

In Queensland seasonally adjusted approvals fell 21.3% (again on the back of weak units data) for a 37.2% decline over the year. The Trend series, however, was up 0.5% for the month but remains down 31.4% for the year. As the chart below makes clear, the sharp declines seen over recent months look as if they may be reaching a bottom; we might see some improvements in coming months.

Regional approvals will be released by the ABS next Monday at which time we will update our Conus Trend series for the SA4 regions in QLD, as well as those for our regional Local Government Areas.

Little joy for the North in the Regional Building Approvals data

We’ve only now had time to crunch the numbers for the February regional building approvals data (released while we were on holiday a few weeks ago), but it doesn’t provide any joy for the North.

Considering the SA4 regional data first, the Conus Trend series for Cairns shows a slight improvement to 71 (after Jan was revised up from 69 to 70), this is still 35.8% below the level of a year ago. In Townsville the Conus Trend fell slightly to 67 (although Jan was revised from 66 to 68).

The complete data set for the Conus Trend Regional Building Approvals at the SA4 level 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.

Conus Trend Regional Building Approvals QLD – Feb 2017

At the Local Government Area level the story is a similar one. The Townsville City Council saw approvals dip to 62 (from 63), a decline of 4.6% for the year. In Cairns Regional Council (including Douglas Shire) the Trend was stable at 40, down 47.5% for the year. The Cassowary Coast was also stable at 6 (although only after Jan was revised up from 4) but remains down 23.8% from a year earlier. The Tablelands (including Mareeba) fell to 18 (from an unrevised 19 in Jan) and is down 21.2% from a year ago.

Building Approvals in Queensland jump on the back of units

The ABS Building Approvals data for February shows a sharp improvement at both a state and national level with unit approvals being the main leader of the improvement.

Seasonally adjusted data for Australia shows approvals up 8.3% m/m for a decline of 4.9% y/y (after some upward revisions to previous months). Approvals for house rose 5.7% for the month but remain 4.4% weaker from a year ago while unit approvals were up 11% and are down 5.4% for the year. The less volatile Trend series showed a 0.8% increase for the month and a 11.5% decline over the year.

In Queensland we saw total approvals (seasonally adjusted) jump by 33.7% although the year on year data is still down 14.2%. This dramatic jump was solely on the back of unit approvals which rose 80.4% from last month while houses fell 12%. Over the year house approvals are up just 0.7% while unit approvals (despite this month’s surge) are down 28.3%. The Trend series shows total approvals down 0.7% for the month and down 31.6% over the course of the year.

Residential Building Approvals dive in the North

The decline in Trend residential building approvals in QLD reported last week (see here) means that a similar fall in the North was to be expected. However the declines in both Cairns and Townsville are still larger than we might have hoped for. The original, unadjusted data from the ABS is highly volatile and we therefore prefer the Conus Trend series to paint a more understandable picture.

In Townsville City Council the original approvals data for January has fallen to an all-time low (since records began in July 2004) of just 21. This sees the Conus Trend drop to 55 (while Dec was revised lower from 64 to 59). Trend approvals now stand at 12.2% lower than a year ago.

In Cairns Regional Council (in which we include Douglas Shire Council for historical consistency) original approvals data was also weak at just 25 (lowest since Jan 2013) and saw the Trend drop to 38 (after Dec was revised down to 41 from 47). Trend approvals now sit 50.7% lower than a year ago.

In the Cassowary Coast Regional Council the original approvals sat at 7 which left the Trend stable at 4, which is 47.1% down from a year ago.

Even the Tablelands Regional Council area (which includes Mareeba Shire Council for this data set) was weaker in January despite being the brighter light in previous months. Trend approvals fell to 19 in Jan (from a downwardly revised 20 in Dec) on the back of original data showing just 12 approvals. The Trend now sits 18.5% below a year ago.

At the SA4 level a similar picture emerges in our region. Townsville sees the Trend drop to 60 (after Dec was revised down to 65 from 67), while Cairns falls to 63 (from an unrevised 67 in Dec).

Nevertheless, as a whole, regional Queensland has fared somewhat better than Greater Brisbane (where the collapse in unit approvals has been most acutely felt).

The full set of Conus Trend data for the Queensland regions 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.

Conus Trend QLD Regional Bldg Apps – Jan 2017

Building Approvals up in Jan…but still plenty of weakness in QLD

Building Approvals for January have defied expectations of a decline and bounced 1.8% for the month (seasonally adjusted), although this is still a 12.0% decline for the year. On the more stable Trend basis approvals fell 2.1% for the month and were down 15.5% over the year.

As has been the case for some time, the major contributor for the declines are coming from unit, rather than house, approvals which are down 22.7% for the year (Trend); house approvals have fallen just 8.5%.

In Queensland the slow down is more dramatic. The seasonally adjusted data showed a 11.9% drop for the month, 45.4% down for the year. The Trend series was down 38.0% for the year. However, here the impact of the unit approvals slowdown is even more marked. On the Trend basis unit approvals are now down 64.7% from the same time last year, while house approvals have fallen 6.5% (less then the national drop). The second chart below makes clear the impact of the unit approvals boom and bust over the past two years on the total Queensland numbers.

Business Count falls in the Cassowary Coast with Construction the main culprit

The annual Business Count data for the financial year 2015-16 shows the Cassowary Coast (consisting of the three SA2 areas Innisfail, Johnstone and Tully {which includes Mission Beach and Cardwell}) lost 94 businesses between 2013-14 and 2015-16. This corresponds to a 2.9% decline across the entire region; although Johnstone saw a small 1.8% increase over the period.

 SA2 area 2014 2015 2016 14-16 chg
Innisfail 883 866 844 -4.4%
Johnstone 971 988 988 +1.8%
Tully 1367 1316 1295 -5.3%

When we consider the industry breakdown we see that Construction was the biggest decline. The sector lost 60 businesses over the two years with Tully alone losing 30. Given the ongoing weakness in Building Approvals data in the area (see here) this is perhaps no surprise.

Other sectors that lost out were Transport, Postal & Warehousing (down 13) and Rental, Hiring & Real Estate (down 25). Some sectors did see gains; Professional Services (up 10), Admin Services (up 7) and Education & Training (up 7) were amongst the few winners.

Regional Building Approvals slow down further

Today’s release of Regional Building Approvals continues the recent trend of declines. The original, unadjusted ABS data is best seen through the lens of the Conus Trend and here we see the SA4 Region of Cairns drop from a revised 74 in Nov (was 73) to 70 in December; this is a 35.4% decline from the Dec 2015. In the Townsville SA4 Region the Nov figure of 73 (unrevised) has dropped to 71 for a 6.4% decline from this time last year.

The decline we are seeing at a State level (see here for details) is being driven by the sharp fall in Unit Approvals, and these (as we would expect) are impacting most dramatically in the Greater Brisbane area (Conus Trend down 40.1% on the year) with the Rest of Queensland seeing declines of a much lesser extent (down just 8.8% since Dec 2015).

The full set of Conus Trend QLD Regional Building Approvals data 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.

Conus Trend QLD Regional Building Approvals – Dec 2016

Within our own local region the data for the Local Government areas is no more encouraging. Cairns Regional Council (incl Douglas Shire)sees the Conus Trend drop to 47 (Nov revised down to 49); the Cassowary Coast remains stable at 4 (although Nov was revised down from 5); the Tablelands (incl Mareeba Shire) is stable at 23 (although Nov was revised down from 26) while Townsville City Council drops to 64 (after Nov was revised up to 65).

Building Approvals drop again

ABS data for December building approvals show further declines. Seasonally adjusted approvals fell 1.2% m/m for a fall of 11.4% over the year. In December house approvals were down 2.2% from Nov and dropped 9.8% from this time a year ago while unit approvals fell by just 0.1% for the month but are down 13.3% from a year ago. The less volatile Trend series has total approvals down 2.5% for December and falling 13.2% from a year ago.

In QLD the declines are even greater. Although seasonally adjusted approvals fell just 0.1% m/m they were down 26.1% over the year. In December house approvals were down 2.1% for the month and dropped 12.9% from this time a year ago, while unit approvals rose in December by 3.5% they were down 41.3% from a year ago. The less volatile Trend series has total approvals down 4.9% for December and falling 29.0% from a year ago.

Regional approvals data will be released next week at which time we shall update our Conus Trend series for all SA4 regions and our local LGAs.