Regional Jobs data; improving for Cairns, worsening for Townsville

Today saw the release of the ABS Regional Labour Force data and we have now completed work on the full set of Conus Trend estimates. What we find is an improving story in Cairns driven by a pick up in full-time work and employment in the middle aged (25-44 years) cohort. The headline Conus Trend Unemployment Rate for Cairns stands at 9.8% in June, after May was revised down from 10.2% to 9.8%. While total Trend Employment remained unchanged at 108,700 (after revisions up in May) we see Trend Full-time positions up by 400 with part-time falling by the same amount.

When we consider the age breakdown there is little joy for the Youth (15-24 years) cohort. Trend Employment in this age was up slightly (by less than 100) but the Trend Unemployment rate came it at 32.5%; although this is a decline from May that is only because that month was revised up to 34.3% (from 32.3%). The Middle aged group picked up about 1,000 Trend jobs (with May revised higher too) and saw the Trend Unemployment Rate unchanged at 6.7% (after May was revised down from 8.7%). The Older cohort (45+ years) saw a decline of about 900 Trend jobs with the Trend unemployment rate ticking slightly higher to 4.2% (from a revised 4.1%).


Over the course of the past 12 months Trend Employment in Cairns is up by just 200; although Trend Full-time positions have increased by 850.


Unfortunately the story is not as encouraging in Townsville. Here we saw Trend Employment drop by another 800 (all of which were in Full-time jobs) which brings the total decline to 12,500 over the course of the past year. Of these 10,700 have been in Trend Full-time positions during that period. The Trend Unemployment Rate for June edged higher to 12.6% (with May revised from 11% to 12.4%).

Trend Youth Employment increased by about 100 with the Trend Youth Unemployment Rate now at 16.4% (May was revised from 15.6% to 17%). Both the Middle and Older cohorts lost Trend jobs (400 and 600 respectively) with the Middle aged Trend Unemployment Rate at 11.4% (May was revised from 11.1% to 11.8%), which is the second highest in the State behind the Outback.

Much has been made of the redundancies at the QNI nickel refinery in recent months and looking at the data (all things being equal) those 800 lost jobs have added approximately 0.7% to the total Townsville Trend Unemployment Rate (i.e. it would sit at 11.9% now if we assume that all of these 800 workers are currently registered as unemployed).

The final chart below highlights the dramatic effect of the labour market decline in Townsville and Cairns. While there is some evidence to suggest that the worst have already passed for Cairns, Townsville continues to be a real concern.

For the first time we are making the full Conus Trend Queensland Regional jobs data set available (download below). This now includes (for all the ABS SA4 regions in Queensland) Trend estimates for employment, unemployment, unemployment rate, participation rate, employment/working population. Newly added are also Trend estimates for Part-time and Full-time employment together with employment and unemployment for the Young, Middle and Older age cohorts. Please feel free to use this data as you wish but kindly acknowledge Conus when you do so.

Conus Trend Queensland Regional Jobs – June 2016


  1. Gene Tunny says:

    July 21st, 2016 at 11:39 pm

    Great post, Pete! I used your data in my latest post:

  2. Pete Faulkner says:

    July 22nd, 2016 at 12:38 am

    Thanks Gene. Plenty of interest in Townsville at the moment.

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