Oct Labour Force – QLD bucks the improving Trend and slides further

Today’s labour force data for Oct has surprised the markets with another strong increase in employment (+32,800 seasonally adjusted) after the apparently strange Sept numbers (see here for the details). Expectations had centred around an increase in employment of around 20,000 with the unemployment rate rising slightly to 5.1%. In fact the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 5.0% with the data for Sept revised slightly better. Full time employment was strong, up 42,300 and is now up 238,800 for the year at an average of 19,900 per month.

It’s always worth looking at the Trend series when we have such volatile seasonally adjusted numbers. Here we see Trend employment up 25,400 and the unemployment rate dropping from 5.2% to 5.1%. Trend employment growth now sits at 2.3% y/y, down from 2.4% last month.

The story in Queensland is a much weaker one. Seasonally adjusted employment fell by another 3,200 after a big fall last month. The unemployment rate increased to 6.3%. The Trend series highlights the fact that employment growth in Queensland is slowing sharply; Trend employment also fell (down 500) in Oct and is now well below the 12 month average of +2,200 per month. The Trend unemployment rate remained at 6.2% (Sept was revised up from 6.1%) and the employment to working population ratio fell again reflecting the slowdown. QLD is now the only state with a Trend unemployment rate greater than 6%; WA is now 5.9% while Tasmania is just 5.6%.

The good news (such as it is) for QLD is that full time jobs are still growing; up an average of 2,200 per month over the past 12 months they were up 2,000 in Oct.

Trend employment growth is now at just 1.1% y/y in Queensland; its slowest pace since Mar 2017 and less than half the pace nationally.

We particularly like the measure of total hours worked per capita of working age population (as this sees through issues around participation rates and the split  between full and part-time employment). This measure highlights for us the continued under-performance of the Queensland labour market compared to the nation as a whole, which is seeing a steady grind upwards. This measure for Australia is at its highest since Jan 2013 while in QLD it sits at its lowest level since Apr 2017.

Regional labour market data will be released next week at which time we will be updating our Conus/CBC Staff Selection Regional Trend data for Queensland and NSW.


  1. Gene Tunny says:

    November 15th, 2018 at 4:07 am

    Great analysis Pete

  2. Pete Faulkner says:

    November 15th, 2018 at 7:16 pm

    Thanks mate. I do think this issue around hours worked per capita of working-age population gives us a real insight into why the wages response has been so muted ti the “improving” labour market data. I’ll post a bit further on that theme later today.

Leave a Response

  • © Conus Business Consultancy Services 2024

    Website created by RJ New Designs