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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