The release by the ABS of their original regional labour force data allows us to update the Conus/CBC Staff Selection Regional Employment Trend series for Queensland. While these January figures will have been collated prior to the full impact of the COVID-19 being felt they do at least provide some positive news for the start of the year. Unfortunately, it would appear inevitable that in comign months we will see this trend weaken; the full extent of which we are yet to be sure of.
While Trend employment growth in Queensland sat at +2.3% in January (better than the 2.0% seen in the nation as a whole) this data shows us that the bulk of that strength is coming from Greater Brisbane where Trend employment growth lifted to 3.0% for the year to January. In the Rest of Queensland things were far less robust registering just 1.6% growth.
In our own regions Trend employment growth continues to be firm. Cairns saw another 600 added to Trend employment (almost all in full-time positions) for annual growth of 8.1% (or an extra 10,000 people employed). With participation also rising strongly over the year the Trend unemployment rate has done well with a 0.2% decline over the month to sit at just 5.8% in January. A 5.4 ppts rise in participation over the year has kept a cap on further declines in the unemployment rate as more people join (or return to) the labour force.
Townsville continues to also see improvement. Trend employment lifted another 400 this month bringing the total to a 6,800 increase over the past 12 months at a rate of 6.3%. The lift in participation seen in Townsville this year (from a very low base) has meant that the Trend unemployment rate has been slow to improve (as we have noted in past months) but does fall this month to 8.0%.
The chart below showing Trend employment per capita of working-age population demonstrates the ongoing strength in the two regions. Cairns, in particular, has shown a really strong rally over the past 2 years and now sits at a more-than 9 year high.
The full Conus/CBC Staff Selection Regional Employment Trend QLD data set is available for download below. Please feel free to use this data but kindly acknowledge Conus/CBC Staff Selection when you do so.