Regional Trend data sees Cairns moderating as employment gains in the Regions rest largely on Healthcare

Today saw the release of the August ABS regional labour force data which allows us to update our own Conus/CBC Staff Selection Trend series. With the labour data weakening at both national and state level it will come as little surprise that we see a similar picture emerging in the regional data.

With Trend employment growth in Queensland at 2.0% we see a Greater Brisbane doing rather better (+2.5%) while the Rest of Queensland is dragging the state-wide rate lower at just +1.5%. Having said that, the good news as far as the regions are concerned is that Trend full-time employment is growing much faster (+4.4%) while part-time postions have been falling. The Trend unemployment rate in Greater Brisbane remains unchanged at 6.3% while in the Rest of Queensland it has nudged higher once again to 6.7%. The worsening in the Queensland Trend unemployment rate (currently 6.4%) is due to the poor performance in the regions.

In our own area we see a moderation of the strong story in Cairns. Trend employment fell in August (down 700) although it remains up 14,200 for the year at a rate of 12.3% pa. A strong increase in Trend participation over the year (up 6.4 ppts) means that depite this solid employment growth the Trend unemployment rate is unchanged for the year at 5.4%; which is still well below the state average. Encouragingly virtually all of the employment growth has been in full-time positions.

In Townsville Trend employment continues to edge higher (allbeit from a low base) and added 1,000 in August. However, this is still only an increase of 2,800 for the year (at a rate of 2.6%). Some months ago we highlighted that Participation in the region has fallen sharply (and kept the unemployment rate subdued) and that when that situation reversed we were likely to see it reflected in a higher unemployment rate again; that is precisely what has happened. The Trend unemployment rate now sits at 8.3% (4th worst in the state).

Comparing the Employment to working population ratio in the two regions (see below) demonstrates the difference in relative strengths we are seeing at present; despite recent gains in Townsville and loses in Cairns.

Today also saw the ABS release their quarterly Industry Employment data. This data is only presented as an annual average at the regional level. However, we are able to disaggregate that data and then apply a seasonally adjusted Trend to the disaggregated original data to create the Conus Industry Employment Trend. This series shows that over the past year employment growth in Greater Brisbane has come from a wide selection of industry sectors which contrasts markedly with the story in the Rest of Queensland where over 60% of all employment gains can be slated to the Healthcare sector.

The full Conus/CBC Staff Selection Regional Employment Trend data is available for download below. Please feel free to use this data but kindly acknowledge Conus/CBC Staff Selection when you do so.

Conus/CBC Staff Selection Regional Employment Trend QLD – Aug 2019


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