Regional jobs data shows Townsville sliding

Today saw the release from the ABS of the regional labour market data for January. As always with this regional data the ABS only provide the original, unadjusted numbers. To get a clear picture we focus on the Conus Trend series.

In Cairns the ABS reported a loss of 5,100 jobs and an unemployment rate that moved higher to 8%. However, the Conus Trend shows jobs grew by 500 (with Dec revised from +500 to +600) to a total of 109,500. The Conus Trend unemployment rate fell slightly to 7.2%, but only after Dec was revised up from 7.2% to 7.4%. This is the lowest Trend unemployment rate for the region since Sept 2011. With the Trend Participation Rate fairly stable at 60.2, what we are seeing is confirmation that jobs growth remains reasonable, but that there are barely enough new jobs to slowly lower the unemployment rate. Over the course of the past 12 months Trend Employment has grown by 3,700 while the Trend work force is up by 3,100 and Trend PR has risen slightly from 59.5 to 60.2.



When we consider the breakdown of the Cairns data we see that Youth Employment continues to be a concern. The Conus Trend Youth Unemployment Rate has moved higher once again to 22.3% (from an upwardly revised 21.5% in Dec). Almost 500 Youth jobs have been lost in the past 2 months according to the Trend data. After the dramatic step-up in the rate from mid-2012 to mid-2013 the Trend unemployment rate has been stuck in a range between about 20-25%…obviously far too high for comfort.16022531602254

For the older cohort (45 years and older) the Conus Trend shows the unemployment rate at just 4.1% (down from 4.8% in Dec) with another 1,200 new jobs created (+1,500 jobs in Dec). It would appear that it is this improvement in the older cohort data that has been driving the improvement in the Cairns data recently.

NOTE. As with all small data sets we must take great care when interpreting the Trend series for both young and older workers.



To our South the story in Townsville continues to look weak. The Trend data shows just 200 new jobs added in Jan (after the same number in Dec) although the 12 month total now sits at a lose of 7,700. The Trend unemployment rate has jumped to 8.2% (with Dec revised up to 7.8% from 7.3%). Part of the reason can be put down to an increasing Trend Participation Rate, but nevertheless the Trend loss of employment in the area must be causing concern. This is the highest level of Trend unemployment in the area for a year and leaves it close to the bottom of the Regional pile with just Wide Bay (8.6%) and Outback QLD (13.5%) faring worse. Of course the impacts of the recent troubles at QNI are yet to show up in the data and we can only expect them to worsen further in coming months.

The full Conus Trend data set for all the QLD Regions is available for free download below. You are welcome to utilise this data, but please acknowledge Conus if you do so.
QLD Regions Jobs data – Conus Trend Jan 2016



  1. Gene Tunny says:

    February 26th, 2016 at 3:40 am

    Great post, Pete. Really useful info.

  2. Pete Faulkner says:

    February 27th, 2016 at 12:44 am

    Thanks Gene

  3. Qld economy patchy – SEQ appears fine, but much of rest of Qld struggling | Queensland Economy Watch says:

    February 26th, 2016 at 11:31 pm

    […] I mentioned to Ben that economic conditions vary by industry and by region. Tourism is a well-known bright spot, due to the lower value of the Australian dollar, and that has helped improve conditions in Cairns, for example. But the Mackay, Rockhampton and Townsville regions, for example, have suffered as a result of the mining downturn (on Townsville and Cairns, see Pete Faulkner’s latest post). […]

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