CCIQ Queensland Economic Update using Conus Trend Industry Jobs data

We are delighted to see CCIQ making extensive use of the Conus Trend Industry Jobs data series in their Queensland Economic Update (download it here). The use of the Trend data allows a much clearer and timely picture of regional jobs in the various industries across Queensland than previously available.

The Conus Trend Industry Jobs series uses the ABS quarterly regional data as a basis but dis-aggregates their 4 quarter average outcomes to estimate a quarterly series which is then trended using an adjusted X-12-ARIMA model. The resultant Trend provides industry jobs data across all of the industries and regions in Queensland for each quarter from August 1999.

For further information on the Conus Trend Industry Jobs series please contact Pete Faulkner

Jobs report as expected; but it’s generally good news

The ABS jobs data for June shows a total of 14,000 new jobs (seasonally adjusted) which was just slightly lower than market consensus expectations of a 14.4K increase. As expected the unemployment rate came in unchanged at 5.6% (after May was revised up from 5.5%). The good news lies in the full-time jobs data which showed a sharp spike up of 62,000, after May also saw a large increase of 53,400. Over the past 12 months the economy has added 240,200 new positions, of which 175,400 (or 73%) have been full-time. Also pointing towards a healthy labour market was a good increase in the Participation Rate which, at 65.0, now sits at its highest level since Jan 2016.

The less volatile (and preferred) Trend series showed jobs up 26,400 with the unemployment rate also at 5.6% (down from 5.7% in May). Trend jobs are up 227,100 for the 12 months with 169,500 (75%) of those full-time.

In Queensland, despite a move up in the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate to 6.5% (from 6.1%), the story is also looking positive. The seasonally adjusted data showed a decline of 1,000 jobs in the month although full-time positions were up 7,400. Over the past 12 months jobs are up by 44,600 of which 10,200 (23%) have been full-time. Here too we have seen a move to higher participation with the rate at 15 month highs of 64.9.

The Trend series in Queensland shows jobs up 7,000 in June (the 8th consecutive month of gains) with full-time up 5,100. Over the past 12 months a total of 43,300 new Trend jobs have been added of which 14,600 (34%) have been full-time. The Trend unemployment rate fell in June to 6.3% (from 6.4% in May). The graph below shows clearly the improvement we continue to see in the Queensland labour market, although it continues to lag behind that of the nation, especially when we consider full-time work.

Is North Queensland being dudded by Brisbane? Not according to the data.

A fascinating post from Gene Tunny at Adept Economics over the weekend which attempts to dispel the (widely held) view that the North of the state has received less than its “fair share” of capital expenditure from Brisbane.

Is North Qld under-funded by the State Government relative to the South East?

I would point out that the imbalance, as evidenced by Gene’s data, is greater for the Rest of Queensland (approx +45%) as a whole than it is for North Queensland (approx +32%). Also, within Gene’s definition of North Queensland, the imbalance comes largely from a significant overspend in the Fitzroy region where capital expenditure appears to be some 60% above that justified by population levels. A similar level of overspend is also seen in Inner Brisbane. One might also argue that Darling Downs-Maranoa would be considered as SEQ (certainly by those in the North) where the “overspend” seems to be close to double that justified by population.

A problem with any analysis of capital expenditure is that during any one year expenditures are inevitably very lumpy; large scale expenditure projects tend to be like that. Even considering for a longer period, as Gene has done (in this case 5 years), is unlikely to smooth out all this lumpiness; mining related infrastructure in the Fitzroy region could well be a case in point here.

Nevertheless, however one wishes to cut the cake, the data seems to show clearly that over the period analysed (the past 5 years) the North of the state certainly hasn’t done badly from State government spending; no matter what the received wisdom seems to suggest.

Regional Building Approvals data shows some improvement in the North

The ABS released their regional (unadjusted) building approvals data this morning for May; we have constructed our own Conus Trend data and they show some improvement across the North.

When we consider the data at the SA4 level we see that the Conus Trend has Cairns approvals up to 86 (after April was revised up to 84) and Townsville also up to 87 (again, April was revised higher to 85).

Across the state as a whole Trend approvals were up in Greater Brisbane, although they remain down 18.2% for the year, at 1,958. In the Rest of Queensland the Trend dipped to 1,563 and is down 14.8% for the year. Commentary on the QLD data released last week is here where we note that QLD generally did better in May; clearly that was due to improvements in Greater Brisbane rather than the regions.. 

In our own region we also see some small improvements across the Local Government Areas. The Cairns Regional Council (incl Douglas Shire) see Trend approvals edge higher to 53 (after April was revised up from 43). The Cassowary Coast Regional Council now sits at 6 (after April was revised up from 5) while the Tablelands Regional Council (incl Mareeba Shire) are now at 18 (after April was revised up from 17). To our South Townsville continues to see improvements with Trend approvals in May at 75 after April was revised up from 73.

The complete set of Conus Trends for the SA4 Regions in QLD is available for download below. 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 – May 2017


Building Approvals dip nationwide but QLD might be doing better

The ABS data for Building Approvals for May came in significantly weaker than had been expected with a fall of 5.6% m/m seasonally adjusted for a 19.7% decline on the year. The more stable (less interesting, and therefore less commented upon…but more reliable as an indicator) Trend series had approvals down by 1.9% for the month and 18.1% over the year. 

In QLD a recovery in the units market saw approvals looking better (at least on the Trend basis). Seasonally adjusted data showed a 10.5% decline for the month and down 13.1% for the year but the Trend showed a 2.2% increase for the month (which is the 5th consecutive month of gains) and a 16.7% decline over the course of the year.

New Conus Trend Regional Industry Jobs series

The ABS present quarterly data for industry employment at a regional level. However, the data they supply is only available on an unadjusted 4-quarters average basis for the SA4 regions. This means that the data as presented paints a very delayed picture of the actual employment reality within the regions. For some time we have been working on creating a more timely, and relevant indicator of regional industry employment data. Today we launch the result of that work; the Conus Trend Regional Industry Jobs series.

To create something that is more timely than the original ABS average we first had to dis-aggregate the 4 quarter average data to derive actual quarterly numbers. Those derived quarterly numbers were then adjusted and trended using an X-12-ARIMA model and further adjusted for consistency with the overall Queensland Trend industry data for the quarter (which we created using the original quarterly ABS original data at a state level). What we’ve ended up with is something that, we believe, a far more relevant and timely indicator of industry based employment levels than has previously been available at the regional level.

It should be noted that the Conus Trend Industry Jobs series for the regions will not be directly comparable with the Conus Trend Jobs data since it is based on quarterly (not monthly) data.

The graphs below give us an idea of in which industries jobs have been created (and lost) over the past 12 months in Cairns and Townsville.

As we can see Public Administration jobs have been a significant growth sector in both regions. They have both also seen good growth in the “tourism” sector of Accommodation & Food, while Cairns has also witnessed healthy growth in the Manufacturing sector. Unlike the state as a whole, Retail Trade has been positive in both regions (particularly in Cairns).

When we consider Greater Brisbane with the Rest of Queensland there are dramatic differences.

Again, growth in Public Admin jobs has been significant, but in Greater Brisbane this growth has been exceptional. Without the Public Admin jobs growth Greater Brisbane would have seen a decline in total employment. Construction and Accommodation & Food have also been strong performers in the Rest of Queensland. Note the declines in Retail Trade in both Greater Brisbane and Rest of Queensland in contrast to Cairns.


Regional jobs data shows Rest of Queensland improving better than Greater Brisbane

The ABS regional jobs data for May was released this morning and we have completed our Conus Trend analysis. What it shows is the regions doing far better than Greater Brisbane on almost all measures.

Over the year to May Trend jobs were up 31,000 in QLD, but 23,400 of these were added in the Rest of Queensland with just 7,600 in Greater Brisbane. Even more impressively the Rest of Queensland saw full-time jobs up 11,400 while they fell 10,500 in Greater Brisbane. The result is that the Trend unemployment rate in Greater Brisbane is now at 6.4% while in the Rest of Queensland it is 6.0% (its 6.3% in the state as a whole).

In our own region we also saw good numbers. Cairns Trend employment was up 400 for the month (with 1,100 new full-time positions) and up 9,800 fore the year (5,900 of which are full-time increases). With the Participation Rate increasing slightly (after revisions) to 62.0 the Trend unemployment rate has actually nudged slightly higher in May to 5.8% (after April was revised down to 5.7%). As the labour market in Cairns improves and we see participation increasing it is to be expected that the unemployment rate is unlikely to fall further, particularly given it now sits well below the state average.

In Townsville the recovery continues to gather momentum. Trend employment was up 1,200 in May (full-time accounted for 700 of those) and up 11,800 for the year (8,900 full-time increases). Trend participation here was revised lower last month so ,despite a small tick higher in May (to 60.6), the solid jobs growth sees the Trend unemployment rate fall sharply lower to 6.3% (from a downwardly revised 7.3% last month). Townsville no longer figures in the bottom portion of regional areas in terms of Trend unemployment; the initiatives, announcements and improvements in confidence we have been talking about for some time have clearly had a dramatically positive impact.

Despite all this positive news, the graph below makes it clear that, once we allow for the declines in participation, there is still plenty of scope for improvements in labour conditions in both regions.

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

Conus Trend Regional Jobs QLD – May 2017

Today all saw the release of the quarterly industry employment data from the ABS. We shall be updating our new Conus Trend Industry Jobs data-set shortly and posting here once we have results.

Significant revisions muddy the data but Domestic Tourism numbers not looking good for TNQ

As we have been expecting for some time, today saw the release of some major revisions to domestic tourism numbers for TNQ. Tourism Research Australia have released the National Visitor Survey report for the March 2017 quarter (available here) along with revisions to data going back to the 2014 year (see here for details). The main point of the revisions is a roughly 15% decline in the original estimate of overnight trips to TNQ in 2015. While details of the revisions are sketchy at this stage (TRA are only providing data for year end, and March 2016, rather than individual quarters) it is clear that they remove much of the increases previously reported for TNQ which many (ourselves included) had queried at the time.

Despite a degree of uncertainty about the revisions this new data clearly confirms the ongoing slide in domestic tourism to the Far North.

Australia saw an increase of overnight trips of 3.1% for the year to March 2017; Queensland was up 4.3%. In TNQ however we saw a 6.9% decline in visits and a 8.4% reduction in expenditure over the year.

Even with international tourism expenditure having increased over the year, the drop in domestic expenditure sees the total for the region fall 4.9% since March 2016.

Given the support that the tourism recovery has given to the TNQ economy it will be worrying many to see this degree of a slow-down seemingly now confirmed. There had been hope within the tourism sector that the long-awaited revisions from TRA would confirm that growth remained in place (albeit at a slower pace than originally estimated); that hope appears now to have been misplaced.

Strong jobs numbers but full-time in QLD are at a standstill

The ABS has shocked the markets with some very strong jobs numbers for May. The headline (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate has fallen to 5.5% (its lowest level since Feb 2013) on the addition of a thumping 42,000 new jobs. The markets had been expecting the unemployment rate to stay at 5.7% and about 10,000 jobs to be added. All of those 42,000 new positions came in the full-time sector which was up 52,100. Participation also rose slightly curtailing an even sharper decline in the unemployment rate.

However, before we all start getting too excited we should take a moment to look at the Trend series (what the ABS recommends should always be done anyway). Here we see 25,200 new jobs added (and March revised slightly higher too) and an unemployment rate at 5.7%. Trend jobs growth over the past 12 months is averaging 16,200 per month, so the current pace of growth is certainly better than that. It’s worth noting that the Trend unemployment rate has been stuck between 5.7% and 5.8% since December 2015 so it would certainly suggest that the kind of move seen in the seasonally adjusted numbers may be somewhat over stated.

Queensland too saw better numbers although here things are decidedly more muted. Seasonally adjusted jobs were up 5,500 although full-time positions fell by 11,200. The unemployment rate fell to 6.1% (from 6.3% in March) with Participation stable. Again the Trend series paints a more reliable picture; jobs rose by 5,900 (after March was revised slightly stronger) and have been growing at an average pace of 2,600 per month over the past 12 months. Trend full time positions, however, are almost static having risen just 1,800 over the whole 12 month period. The Trend unemployment rate sits at 6.3% (unchanged in 5 months). As the chart below makes clear, although jobs are growing (and the pace has picked up over the past few months) the rate of growth is only just sufficient to keep up with population growth. The Queensland government will certainly be hoping that their “jobs Budget” earlier this week can have the impact on jobs creation it promises.

Regional jobs data for May will be released next Thursday. At this time we will be updating the Conus Trend Regional Jobs data sets as well as releasing our new Conus Industry Trend Regional data based on the quarterly ABS industry employment data for the May quarter.