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

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.

Regional population estimates show North lagging rest of QLD, Cairns-North still doing well.

The ABS have released their regional population estimates (up to mid year 2016) today and they show the North of the state lagging recent growth elsewhere. The data is provided at the Local Government Area (LGA) level as well at SA2 and above. Taking the LGA data first…

LGA 2016 est annual change % decade change %
Cairns 161,932 +1.0 +22.8
Douglas 11,844 +1.5 +12.5
Cassowary Coast 28,721 +0.1 +0.4
Tablelands 25,054 +0.3 +7.9
Mareeba 22,029 +0.9 +17.5
Townsville 195,914 +1.0 +22.8
QLD 4,843,303 +1.4 +20.8

While Cairns and Townsville have outpaced QLD growth over the past decade, that out-performance has now ceased with growth just 70% of the state average in the past year. The Cassowary Coast has finally returned to positive territory (although only just!) while the Tablelands Regional Council area has also been weak.

If we break the Far North (i.e. Cairns SA4) data down even further we can see quite a diverse range of outcomes across the region.

SA4 SA3 SA2 est change annual % change decade %
Cairns     246,110 +0.8 +17.3
Cairns-North 53,709 +1.7 +31.2
Brinsmead 5,666 +0.7 +8.9
Clifton Beach – Kewarra Beach 11,642 +2.1 +40.5
Freshwater – Stratford 4,058 +1.0 +10.5
Redlynch 12,733 +1.3 +35.0
Trinity Beach – Smithfield 13,216 +3.2 +60.4
Yorkeys Knob – Machans Beach 6,394 +0.6 +5.0
Cairns-South 104,790 +0.7 +20.1
Bentley Park 8,458 +0.2 +50.4
Cairns City 11,203 +1.3 +31.7
Earlville – Bayview Heights 8,721 +0.5 +4.1
Edmonton 11,224 +1.2 +35.8
Gordonvale – Trinity 8,890 +0.5 +28.3
Kanimbla – Mooroobool 10,184 +1.4 +15.1
Manoora 6,172 -0.1 +5.9
Manunda 5,450 +0.1 +3.6
Mount Sheridan 8,706 +0.2 +18.5
Westcourt – Bungalow 7,012 +1.0 +23.0
White Rock 4,887 +0.3 +22.6
Whitfield – Edge Hill 8,580 +0.3 +2.4
Woree 5,303 +1.7 +25.5
Innisfail-Cassowary Coast 34,843 +0.1 +0.4
Babinda 4,134 -0.5 -5.1
Innisfail 9,534 -0.2 -1.3
Johnstone 7,704 -0.7 -0.3
Tully 10,779 +1.1 +2.7
Yarrabah 2,689 +0.1 +9.0
Port Douglas-Daintree 11,787 +1.5 +12.4
Daintree 6,277 +0.9 +2.5
Port Douglas 5,510 +2.3 +26.3
Tablelands (East)-Kuranda 40,981 +0.5 +12.7
Atherton 11,050 +1.0 +15.5
Herberton 5,706 -0.4 +3.0
Kuranda 4,766 +0.3 +25.9
Malanda – Yungaburra 8,306 -0.2 +2.3
Mareeba 11,153 +1.1 +19.3

Cairns North, and in particular Trinity Beach, Clifton Beach and Redlynch, has been the stand-out growth area over the past decade, with Trinity and Clifton Beach still growing faster than average last year. In the south, Edmonton and Gordonvale have seen rapid growth over the past 10 years.

Outside of Cairns, Port Douglas has done well over the decade and continues to outperform the region as a whole. In the Cassowary Coast the only area to see growth at all over the 10 years was Tully (which includes Tully, Mission Beach and Cardwell) with the areas around Innisfail all falling. (Although Yarrabah is in the Innisfail-Cassowary Coast SA3 it is not in the Cassowary Coast Regional Council area. Babinda, likewise, is in the Cairns Regional Council area.)

Small Area Labour Market data shows solid improvements in Far North; declines in Townsville

Friday saw the release of the Small Area Labour Market (SALM) data from the Dept. of Employment; and it was good news for the Far North and bad for Townsville...again.

The SALM data is based on a range of indicators including ABS Labour Force data for the SA4 areas, Youth and Newstart allowance data and the 2011 Census data at the SA2 level. As such this series cannot be directly compared with the ABS unemployment rates at the SA4 area level (or the Conus Trend series which is derived from that data). The data is presented on a smoothed basis where the series is smoothed over a four quarter basis to remove regional volatility.

For the December quarter we saw the unemployment rate in the Cairns Regional Council area drop from 7.8% to 7.1%.  The SALM data showed a total of 1,129 more people employed over the quarter with the Labour Force growing by 624 people.

In the Cassowary Coast the SALM unemployment rate also dropped (to 7.6% from 8.3%) with 187 more people employed than in the Sept quarter. Digging deeper into the CCRC numbers we see the unemployment rate in Innisfail fell to 11.6% (from 12.6%), in Johnstone it dropped to 5.9% (from 6.5%) and in Tully (which includes Mission Beach and Cardwell) the decline was to 5.7% (from 6.3%). The marked difference between the unemployment rate in the north and that in the south remains very much in place.

Our own Conus Trend for the Cairns SA4 (which includes both CRC and CCRC areas along with the Tablelands, Douglas and Yarrabah) stood at 5.9% for December and has been stable since. Given the smoothed nature of these quarterly numbers we would expect to see the March quarter show further falls in the unemployment rates for CRC and CCRC.

Unfortunately, to our south in Townsville, the data merely confirms the weaker story we’ve been talking about for some time. The SALM unemployment rate jumped to 10.7% (from 9.7%) with 1,761 fewer people employed. The Conus Trend unemployment rate for Townsville SA4 fell slightly over the three months to January (11.8%) so we can hope that we have already seen the worst for the region and the March SALM data might be somewhat improved.

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

Land values in Cassowary Coast drift lower

The 2017 Valuer General’s report sees Cassowary Coast land valuations updated (last done in the 2015 report). The Report notes that..

“The residential markets in Cassowary Coast have been variable throughout the region. The agricultural sector is generally strong with high commodity prices, particularly within the sugar and grazing industries, being a major driver in the property market. Farming land values have generally increased over the last 24 months as sales volumes have picked up. This is offset somewhat by uncertainty within the banana industry due to biosecurity concerns relating to Panama disease. The tourism market is still slow and confined mainly to the driving holiday
market.

Residential values have generally softened in the town of Innisfail, as well as in smaller coastal and hinterland localities such as Wangan, Mourilyan, Mundoo, South Johnstone, Silkwood, El Arish and Kennedy. Values have generally remained unchanged in the coastal localities of Mission Beach and Wongaling Beach, whilst South Mission Beach, with its oversupply of vacant allotments, continued to show a drop in value. In the southern Cassowary Coast townships, such as Tully and Cardwell, values have generally been stable.

Commercial, industrial and multi-unit lands have generally mirrored the residential trend in Cassowary Coast townships. Values have softened for premium sites within Edith and Rankine (sic) streets, Innisfail.”

In terms of averages, the median residential valuation has declined by 9.3% since 2015 to $68,000 while rural-residential is up 2.7% to $113,000.

Overall across the region valuations are down 0.3% since 2015. The total value of primary production land has increased by 25.1% to $335 million since 2015.

Townsville also got revalued this year and saw median residential values decline by 2.1% to $143,000. The Report notes..

“The Townsville property market has been impacted by high unemployment, high rental vacancies, and a downturn in the mining sector, which has created a relatively subdued market. This is tempered however by returning confidence associated with project announcements such as, the North Queensland Stadium and allied Priority Waterfront Development Area, the Elliot Springs development, and services associated with Singaporean military expenditure. As a result of these forecast events, market conditions have stabilised along with steadying sale volumes and median sale prices.”

As always, when we see land valuations released there will be confusion about the impact this will have on peoples rates bills. Declines (or increases) in land values will not, off course, necessarily impact on the level of rates payable since Councils will simply adjust up (or down) the cents in the dollar rate to maintain budgeted General Rate income. However, if individual land valuations are significantly different to the average change in a particular Council then owners can expect to see their relative rate burden either go up (where their land has appreciated more than average, or gone down less than average) or go down (where their land has depreciated more than the average decline, or appreciated less than the average rise). In either case it is highly unlikely that anyone will see their General Rates actually fall!

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.

No sign of good news in Building Apps for the Far North

Today’s release of the regional building approvals data for November from the ABS doesn’t provide any good news for our region (not surprising given the general weakness at a state level seen last week…see here for details).

The unadjusted regional data is best seen through the prism of the Conus Trend series. When we consider the SA4 regions we see Cairns approvals static at 59 (after Oct was revised lightly higher), but this represents a 47.8% decline from the Trend level 12 months ago. Townsville Trend approvals fall slightly to 75 (although Oct was revised up from 73 to 76), which is 8.6% lower than its level a year ago.

If we consider the comparison between Greater Brisbane and the Rest of Queensland we continue to see the dramatic impact of the decline in unit approvals being felt disproportionately in Greater Brisbane, as one might expect.

The full data set of Conus Trend Building Approvals for all the SA4 Regions in QLD is available for free download below. Please feel free to use this data for non-commercial use but we would appreciate you acknowledging Conus when you do so.

Conus Trend QLD Regional Building Apps – Nov 2016

When we look at the Conus Trend data for the Local Government Regions we also see things slightly weaker. Townsville City Council fell to 65 (from an unrevised 67 in Oct); Cassowary Coast Regional Council was steady at 5 (after Oct was revised down); Cairns Regional Council (incl Douglas Shire) also fell, to 37, with Oct revised weaker to 38 from 42; and Tablelands Regional Council (incl Mareeba Shire) was the only bright spot with approvals rising to 25 after Oct was revised up to 23.

 

Dept of Employment SALM data for Sept quarter shows Townsville weak (again)

The release by the Dept of Employment of their Small Area Labour Market (SALM) data for the third quarter to Sept 2016 confirms the weaker story that we’ve been seeing in Townsville.

The SALM data is based on a range of indicators including ABS Labour Force data for the SA4 areas, Youth and Newstart allowance data and the 2011 Census data at the SA2 level. As such this series cannot be directly compared with the ABS unemployment rates at the SA4 area level (or the Conus Trend series which is derived from that data). The data is presented on a smoothed basis where the series is smoothed over a four quarter basis to remove regional volatility.

The unemployment rate in the Cassowary Coast has fallen slightly to 8.4% (from 8.5%). Within the Local Govt Area we see the unemployment rates in the SA2 region of Innisfail stable at 12.7% while Johnstone (6.6%) and Tully (6.3%) have both fallen slightly.

In the Cairns Regional Council the unemployment rate has edged higher this month to 7.9% (from 7.8%). The Conus Trend for the SA4 region of Cairns has been falling in recent months but we should remember that:-

  1. Cairns SA4 includes not only Cairns Regional Council but also Douglas Shire (down to 7.1%), Tablelands (down to 9.2%), Mareeba (up to 11.4%) and the Cassowary Coast (down to 8.4%)
  2. The SALM data is a 4 quarter smoothed series, the Conus Trend is a monthly seasonally adjusted trend

But it’s in Townsville City Council where we see the greatest move. The unemployment rate here has jumped again to 9.6% (from 9.2%). Over the course of the year the labour force in Townsville (as measured in the SALM) has fallen by 7,272 with the number in work dropping almost 8,336. Over the past 5 years the number employed in Townsville has dropped by 17,000. This is yet another set of data which confirms the continuing weakness of the jobs market in Townsville. As is the case for Cairns SA4, the Townsville SA4 is made up of more than simply Townsville City Council; it also includes Hinchinbrook Shire (increased to 9.7%), Burdekin Shire (up to 9.7%) and Charters Towers Regional Council (up to 12.7%).

ABS Labour Force data for Nov will be released on Thursday this week, and the regional data a week later (at which point we will be releasing the Conus Regional Trend series for QLD, NSW and Victoria.

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