New Conus Industry Trend data shows the problems Townsville faces

Each quarter the ABS produce data showing the levels of employment in each industry for the various labour force regions. Unfortunately this data is only provided on an unadjusted, 4-quarters average basis and as a result is a very lagged indicator. So, in the same way that we have been doing for some time with the monthly ABS regional labour force data, we wanted to produce a series, utilising this raw ABS data, that would give clients and policy-makers a more timely and responsive data-set when considering industry employment in the regions.

We still have some work to do before we’re ready to launch the full data-set for all the QLD SA4 regions (we anticipate a full launch in time for the next quarterly release of ABS data in June) but at this stage wanted to share with readers some initial findings with regard to Townsville.

To construct this data-set we have had to dis-aggregate the 4-quarters average data from the ABS. We’ve then adjusted and trended that dis-aggregated data to create the Conus Industry Trend for regional employment.

Looking across the 19 ANZSIC industry categories in Townsville, and comparing to the data from a decade earlier highlights the breadth of the slow-down seen.

We can see that only 6 of the 19 industry sectors have seen any increase in employment numbersĀ (this during a period in which the population of Townsville increased by at least 37,000). Of those 6 industries only 3 have seen growth of 2,000 or more (Public Admin, Health Care and Transport). Major declines have been seen in Construction (down almost 6,000), Manufacturing and Retail Trade (both down almost 2,000) and falls of about 1,000 in many other sectors. The downturn in the Townsville economy has clearly been broad-based and impacted a large majority of industry sectors with a total loss of almost 6,000 jobs over the decade.

The full Conus Industry Trend series for all QLD SA4 regions is anticipated to be available after the release of the ABS Quarterly Labour Force data in June.

Note: The ABS Regional Jobs data will be released this Thursday (25th) at which time we will be updating our monthly Conus Trend Regional QLD Labour Force series.


  1. Glen says:

    May 23rd, 2017 at 8:25 am

    Great reading Pete, in particular the fact that so few actual mining jobs ( operational) have been lost in Townsville will surprise many, with most jobs lost in the construction sector which would include mining construction as well as residential and commercial, on an average $100k PA that’s $600 million in wages a year, that have been lost alone. Yet we have a council down here intent on throwing as many obstacles in the way of developers that most projects have completely stalled or canceled, I hope someone in the council down here reads your post and reconsiders some of their decisions.

  2. Pete Faulkner says:

    May 23rd, 2017 at 10:03 pm

    Thanks Glen. Yes, operational mining jobs are virtually unchanged. The “mining boom” should be more properly termed the “building mines boom”. Cheers, Pete

  3. Gene Tunny says:

    May 24th, 2017 at 10:32 am

    Pete, I thought there were a fair amount of operational jobs lost state wide, particularly in central Qld, but maybe less so in NQ.

  4. Pete Faulkner says:

    May 25th, 2017 at 10:58 pm

    Gene, that’s an interesting point. On my data, since the peak of mining jobs (Nov ’13) to Feb ’17 QLD has lost 17,600 jobs in the sector. Greater Brisbane accounted for 9,700 of those losses with the worst region being Inner City where 2,900 mining jobs have gone. The Rest of QLD lost 7,800 jobs with the worst being Gold Coast (down 2,600) with Fitzroy gaining 2,400! Other regions to lose more than 2,000 were Darling Downs, Gold Coast (!), Outback and Townsville.
    When it comes to mining jobs (operational as opposed to construction) the losses have been largely focused in the SE.

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