Small Area Labour Market data points to Port Douglas and Tully as regional star performers

The Dept of Employment today released their Small Area Labour Market data for the March quarter. The headline data is presented as a smoothed 4 quarters average at both Local Govt Area and SA2 level. However, hidden in the release is the original, unsmoothed, data and from that we create the Conus Trend series for all the QLD LGAs as well as the SA2 and SA3 areas within the broader Cairns region.

The SALM estimates use data from ABS Labour Force, estimated regional population estimates and Census along with Dept of Social Services Centrelink data in an effort to “produce small area labour market estimates that reflect the regional disparities of the Centrelink data, while being consistent with the ABS Labour Force Survey estimates.”

Most councils in the Far North saw decreases in Trend unemployment rates and these came on the back of downward revisions in previous quarters (which is not surprising given the strength seen in the Conus/CBC Staff Selection Trend data in Cairns SA4). The Conus Trend unemployment rates for our various LGAs in the Far North are;

  • Cairns Regional Council – 5.1% (previous quarter revised from 5.5% to 5.1%)
  • Douglas Shire Council – 3.7% (previous quarter revised from 4.6% to 4.3%)
  • Cassowary Coast Regional Council – 6.0% (previous quarter unrevised at 6.1%)
  • Tablelands Regional Council – 5.7% (previous quarter revised from 6.4% to 5.8%)
  • Mareeba Shire Council – 8.0% (previous quarter revised from 8.5% to 8.1%)

To our south Townsville City Council now sits at 7.7%, and was the only Council in the North where we saw upward revisions; the December quarter was revised up from 7.4% to 7.7%.

As the chart below makes clear, original data (with the exception of Townsville) is showing an improving trend and we can therefore anticipate further downward revisions to Conus Trend unemployment rates in future quarters.

Digging a little deeper into the Cairns region by considering the SA3 regions we see that Conus Trend unemployment rates are;

  • Cairns North – 2.6%
  • Cairns South – 6.5% (Manoora and Manunda at 13.4% and 12.6% respectively)
  • Innisfail Cassowary Coast – 7.9% (this includes Yarrabah at 52.3%, Innisfail at 9.9% and Tully at 3.9%)
  • Port Douglas Daintree – 3.6%
  • Tablelands Kuranda East – 6.6%

As was the case with the LGA data, the SA3 data suggests that Port Douglas-Daintree has been the star performer in the region over the first quarter of this year. Not only has the area seen large reductions in the Conus Trend unemployment rate, but revisions to previous quarters were also strongly downward (December was originally 5.0%, revised to 4.2% and March now at 3.6%)

While the Cassowary Coast saw only modest improvements the SA2 data suggests that the Tully area (which includes Cardwell and Mission Beach) has performed well with the Conus Trend rate in Tully having fallen from an original estimate in December of 4.9% (revised to 4.2%) to 3.9% now.


  1. Mark Beath says:

    June 16th, 2019 at 8:03 am

    I don’t buy the Port Douglas employment story. Sorry.

  2. Pete Faulkner says:

    June 16th, 2019 at 10:37 am

    Not asking anyone to buy anything. Simply analysing the data and pointing out what it’s telling us, and on these numbers there is a clear suggestion of a strongly positive move in Port Douglas Daintree labour market.

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