The drivers behind Participation changes across QLD

There’s been plenty written about the fact that the Participation Rate across Australia is at, or near, record highs and the effect this has had on suppressing unemployment rate declines, even as employment growth remains reasonable.¬†Participation rates are so high largely due to significant shifts in the participation of the female workforce where we have witnessed sharp increases in recent years (this excellent graphic from Alex Joiner at IFM makes the point beautifully). We have previously written pieces discussing the various drivers of Participation Rate changes and how we can calculate, and separate, them (see here and here for details) to give us insight into how and why participation rates have changed.

With the recent release of the October Conus/CBC Staff Selection Trend Employment data for Queensland we are able to update this regional analysis.

What our analysis shows us is that the changes driving record participation in Australia (a sharp increase in the propensity of females to enter the labour force while male propensity remains largely unchanged) have not been replicated in Queensland. In the Sunshine State, although participation rates are up over the 21 years of our study, the increase due to female propensity is a little less than nationally while male propensity has fallen in spite of a small rise nationally. This difference, combined with the negative effects of population age changes (which have been felt more in Queensland than nationally), sees Queensland participation rates having increased less than 1/2 as much as nationally.

Looking at the data more closely we see that participation in regional Queensland has barely increased at all. Although the propensity effect in the female work force has been of a similar scale to that seen nationally there has been a decline in male propsensity which, when combined with much greater-than-average declines caused by population effects, has virually wiped out the improvements generally seen across the State.

The picture in differing regions varying enormously with some such as Gold Coast seeing sharp increases as propensity effects in both sexes were positive and the population effects were neglible (suggesting Gold Coast is something of a youth magnet). Conversely Toowoomba has seen strongly negative population effects in both sexes and a strong negative propensity effect in males being only partially offset by a modest increase from females.

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