Our catch-up of regional data continues with the November regional labour force numbers and the quarterly industry jobs numbers. Both of these data sets we prefer to analyse through the lens of the respective Conus Trend series. For the regional monthly jobs data we prepare the Conus Trend using the original unadjusted ABS data while for the quarterly industry jobs numbers we deconstruct the 4-quarter averages that the ABS supply and then create Trends from those quarterly numbers. Both these data sets provide, in our opinion, more timely and useful data than that available directly from the ABS. In particular the Conus Trend Industry Jobs provides a much more timely indication of where jobs are being created (and lost) at a regional level than the very lagged 4-quarters average.
However, given the differences in the time-frames and original data sources used for each Trend series we should stress that direct comparison between the two is unwise. Despite the deconstruction and trending of the quarterly industry jobs data, the Conus Trend Industry Jobs will still lag the monthly Conus Trend Jobs data.
Looking at the industry data first we can see some significant differences between the Greater Brisbane and Rest of Queensland industry changes over the year.
Some differences worth noting are in the Retail Trade sector where the Greater Brisbane region has seen an extra 14,000 jobs while the Rest of Queensland have lost 3,100 (for previous comments on this issue see here).
Public Administration has seen jobs increase in Rest of Queensland by 5,700 while they have eased slightly (down 300) in Greater Brisbane. This would appear to reflect Govt policy emphasis on regional jobs with increases seen in most regional SA4 areas.
Healthcare and Social Assistance saw solid jobs growth across most regions with both Greater Brisbane and the Rest of Queensland recording sizeable increases.
Education and Training fell 1,600 in the regions (led mainly by falls in Cairns, Mackay and Wide Bay) but was up 9,900 in Greater Brisbane (gains across most SA4 areas).
Construction was another strong performer for the state but Greater Brisbane accounted for almost two-thirds of those gains (up 7,100) with just 3,800 coming from the Rest of Queensland. This should be of little surprise given the unit-building boom underway in the capital.
Within our own region Cairns saw solid industry jobs growth in Construction (+2,500), Accommodation & Food (+2,100), Healthcare (+1,900) and Arts and Recreation (+1,800) with losses in Retail Trade (-2,100) and Education & Training (-1,800).
Townsville, not surprisingly given the strength of the labour market recovery seen in the past year, saw gains in almost every sector. Of particular note are Healthcare (+3,400), Education & Training (+1,800), Accommodation & Food (+1,300) and Public Administration (+900).
Turning to the monthly labour force data for November we see the performance of Greater Brisbane, which had been lagging the regions only a few months ago, now taking the lead once again. Across the nation Trend employment growth for the year to November stood at +3.1%, Queensland did better at +4.8% while we now see Greater Brisbane overtaking the regions (+4.9% versus +4.7% for Rest of Queensland).
In our own region Trend employment is growing at 3.1% in Cairns, up 3,600 employed for the year with the Trend unemployment rate lifting slightly to 5.9% (from a downwardly revised 5.8% in Oct). The Trend unemployment rate in Cairns now appears to be settling at a level similar to the state-wide average and we can expect to see any future moves down tied to declines across the state more widely.
Townsville’s employment, which has seen very strong jobs growth over the year from a very weak base, is now growing at 11.6% (the strongest in the state) with an extra 11,100 employed over the year. However, the Trend unemployment rate sits at 9.0% (up from 8.5% in October) which, barring the Outback, is still the highest in the state. Clearly there remains ample scope for further improvements in this region and some of the more recent announcements for Townsville should see employment growth continue. Perhaps some declines in a strong Participation Rate will also help to drive the unemployment rate lower.
The graph below “sees through” the participation impact on unemployment rates and shows us that both Cairns and Townsville have weakened slightly in recent months having recovered strongly since 2nd and 3rd quarters 2016.
The full Conus Trend Regional Jobs data is available for download below. Please feel free to use this data (for non-commercial purposes) but we would appreciate yo acknowledging Conus when you do so.