The good news for jobs continues in Cairns

After the bizarre jobs data last week (see here for commentary) it is worth remembering that on a Trend basis Queensland saw the unemployment rate tick up to 6.7% from 6.6%. Fortunately the story in the Far North is looking better than that, with yet another month of improvement in the Cairns Trend data.

As always, the headline un-adjusted data from the ABS should be put aside and rather the focus needs to be on the Conus Trend. This shows employment in Cairns increasing by 1,000 in August with positive revisions to previous months. Trend employment has now increased by 6,100 so far this year, compared to a 12,200 decline during 2013.

The Conus Trend unemployment rate now stands at 7.3% (unchanged from July, although July was revised down from 7.4%). This means that the Trend unemployment rate in Cairns has now fallen from 8.6% at the start of the year (at the same time the unemployment rate in QLD has gone up from 5.9% to 6.7%). The result for unemployment is made even more impressive when we consider that the Trend Participation Rate has also improved; up to 62.7 from 62.6 in July (which was itself revised sharply higher).

The Trend employment to working population ratio has now increased to 58.6 which is its highest level in a year.

To our south the apparently weaker picture continues. Trend employment in Townsville was up by just 900, with the Conus Trend unemployment rate rising to 9.2% (from 8.9% in July). The Trend Participation Rate in Townsville, which has been high, moves higher still to 67.5; it is this high PR which is keeping the unemployment rate so elevated. If we consider the employment to working population ratio the Trend here shows an improvement to 61.6 (like Cairns, its highest level in a year). In Townsville we are seeing a distorted picture when we consider the unemployment rate caused by the elevated Participation Rate.

Cairns now sits in 7th position; Ipswich is in top spot with a Conus Trend unemployment rate of 9.7% (down from 9.8% last month)

The improvements in youth unemployment in Cairns that we have witnessed over previous months seems to have stalled a little in August. The Conus Trend Youth unemployment rate has increased to 18.1% (from an upwardly revised 17.8% in July), although the 12 month moving average (the measure preferred by the Brotherhood of St Laurence) has declined to 19.7%; its first time below 20% this year.

As usual, the spreadsheet with all the QLD Regions’ Conus Trend employment numbers and unemployment rates is available for download. Please feel free to use this data, but when doing so please ensure to credit Conus. QLD Regions Jobs data – Conus Trend Aug 2014




Also released today were quarterly employment data by industry. Gene Tunny at Queensland Economy Watch has taken a look at this and reckons that they don’t look good for the “four pillars” of the Queensland economy.

Great jobs results for Cairns in July

The ABS release of regional labour market data has shown the Cairns region performed remarkably well in July despite the national and state weakness that we saw last week (see here for our comments at the time). The headline, unadjusted data might appear unbelievably good but when we see through that and look at the Conus Trend series an encouraging story unfolds.

The headline unemployment rate fell to 7.0% (from 8.2% in June) while the number employed was up 4,300 (after a 6,600 decline last month). The number unemployed fell by 1,200 to 8,500 while the Participation Rate jumped to 62.7 from 61.2. These wild swings are indeed too good (and too volatile) to take seriously.

The Conus Trend series shows us a more believable story, and continues the improving trend discussed last month (see here). Trend employment rose by 600 (slightly down from a 800 increase in June), unemployment was up 100 to 9,100 (while the June number was revised from 9,300 to 9,000) and the Participation Rate was stable at 62.1 (after June was revised up from 61.5). All this combines to see a Trend unemployment rate of 7.4%; this is down from 7.5% in June (itself revised down from 7.6%). The Conus Trend unemployment rate in Cairns has now fallen from 8.6% at the start of this year. This result means that Cairns now sits in 7th place in QLD regions for their unemployment rates behind Ipswich (9.9%), Moreton Bay – North (9.1%), Wide Bay (9.0%), Townsville (8.7%), Logan-Beaudesert (8.3%) and Sunshine Coast (7.8%).


UPDATE…Mark Beath over at Loose Change has taken a look at the Cairns Participation Rate relative to QLD’s

To our south things are nothing like as bright. In Townsville the Conus Trend unemployment rate stood at 8.7%; up from an upwardly revised 8.3% in June. On a brighter note Trend employment in Townsville has increased by 1,100 although this is a fall from the 1,300 seen in June. Townsville now sits in 4th place for QLD regions trend unemployment rates.

The full Excel spreadsheet for Conus Trend employment and unemployment rate data is available for download below. Please feel free to use this data (for non-commercial use) but kindly acknowledge Conus if you do so.

QLD Regions Jobs data – Conus Trend July 2014 data

The headline data for Cairns Youth  looks somewhat worse with the unemployment rate up to 20.2% (from 17.5% in June) and Participation down. However, the Trend data shows that the (slow) recovery remains in place even here. The Conus Trend unemployment rate for youth in Cairns fell to 15.8% (from an upwardly revised 16.3% in June). Even the Brotherhood of St Laurence preferred measure of a 12 month moving average shows improvement (as it did last month) and now stands at 20.0% (down from 21.8% in April this year). The more reliable Conus Trend data shows a decline in the unemployment rate for youth from 25.2% in July last year; a reduction of almost 10% over the year!