Comparing Cairns and the Gold Coast

The quarterly industry employment data from the ABS (and more specifically the Conus Industry Employment Trend data derived from it) allows us to take a look at how three of the more important industry sectors for Cairns employment have been tracking compared to the Gold Coast. The charts below show the original ABS data and Conus Trend for Accommodation & Food, Retail and Healthcare.

While Cairns has seen almost no movement in this sector for seven years (after a sharp fall in the wake of the GFC), the Gold Coast has seen a steady ramp up in employment; clearly partly driven by the Commonwealth Games earlier this year (however, we should note that the data would suggest something of a downward revision could well be on the cards when we get the August data).

The story is very similar when we consider the Retail sector. 

Healthcare, on the other hand is somewhere we see a far better performance in Cairns than in the Gold Coast. Numbers employed continue to rise strongly in Cairns while on the Coast numbers have been slowly sliding for the past year or so. Healthcare is now the largest sector (in terms of employment) in the Cairns region with more than 5,000 more people employed in this sector than in Retail Trade.

As the two charts below show clearly, Cairns has become an economy with a heavy reliance on employment in the Healthcare sector, while employment on the Gold Coast is spread far more evenly across a number of sectors. 


  1. Mark Beath says:

    July 1st, 2018 at 11:11 am

    A quick look at census data. Healthcare and social assistance employment between 2006 and 2016. Cairns +58.4%; Gold Coast +75.8%. Which wouldn’t be that far out of line with this data. Would expect Cairns to be higher on this as a regional service sector for the Cape and indigenous community. I would be more worried by the Gold Coast weighting to a structurally weak retail sector.

  2. Pete Faulkner says:

    July 1st, 2018 at 9:13 pm

    Mark, That’s a great point and I hadn’t looked at his data compared to the Census. Having now done so (May 06 v May 16) on my data Healthcare in Cairns was up 60.7% while in the Gold Coast it was up 103.3% for the decade. In the 2 years since the Census data Cairns is up another 28.9% while the Coast has slipped 4.7%.
    As for the Retail sector in the Gold Coast, it currently accounts for 12.4% of all employment. That’s a percentage that has fallen slightly from 14-14.5% in the early 2000s but has settled in the 11.5-12.5% range recently. Percentages in Cairns are similar (currently at 12.0% which is a 4 year high) and have fallen from about the 13-13.5% range in 2002 to settle in a range of between 10-12% now.
    Thanks for the comment.

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