Employment Trend worsens again in Cairns

The regional employment data for April from the ABS needs to be seen through the lens of the Conus/CBC Staff Selection Employment Trend to make much sense of. What this shows us is the picture in Cairns continues to deteriorate with Trend employment having fallen for 9 consecutive months.

Trend employment in Cairns fell another 1,200 in April and has now dropped by 5,500 since a year ago (this equates to a 4.6% drop). Full-time employment accounts for all of the decline with part-time jobs stable. Even with the Trend participation rate declining we see another rise in the Trend unemployment rate to 7.5% (its highest level since Aug 2016); even the much touted (but very lagged) 12 month average is now on the way up and sits at 6.3%. Those continuing to spruik the apparent good performance of the Cairns labour market based on this 12 month average data will be in for a fall in coming months! The only bright(ish) light on the horizon is that the Trend median length of time people are looking for work has fallen again, this time to 20 weeks, which is its lowest since Dec 2015.

Trend youth unemployment remains elevated with the unemployment rate sitting at 17.0% (significantly higher than the regional average of 13.5%) even though Trend youth employment is up 5,100 for the year.

To our south the slow recovery in Townsville continues. Trend employment increased another 700 in April and is now up 4,900 for the year (+4.7%) and the unemployment rate dropped to 8.8%. Trend youth unemployment in Townsville has fallen below that in Cairns, to 16.8%, for the first time since Aug 2016. Here too the Trend median length of search for work has dropped (to 30 weeks) although this remains well above the regional average of 20 weeks

Looking through the impacts of participation changes by way of the employment:working population measure below highlights the differences in the performance of the two regions recently. Townsville has returned to a level only just below the regional average while Cairns has fallen away steeply in the past 9 months.

When comparing Greater Brisbane and the Rest of Queensland we see Trend employment growth is slightly faster in the regions (+3.6% v 3.4%) although the Trend unemployment rate of 6.4% remains above that in the capital (6.1%).

The full Conus/CBC Staff Selection Employment Trend data for QLD is available for download below. Please feel free to use this data (for non-commercial purposes) but please ensure you acknowledge “Conus/CBC Staff Selection Employment Trend” when you do so.

Conus/CBC Staff Selection Employment Trend QLD – Apr 2018


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