March labour force data shows the North was in a strong position prior to the COVID-19 impacts

The ABS released their original, unadjusted regional labour force data this morning which allows us to update the Conus/CBC Staff Selection Regional Employment Trend series for the QLD SA4 regions.

While last week we saw the Trend unemployment rate in Queensland decline to 5.7% (see here for details) today’s data allows us to see that Greater Brisbane sits at 5.8% while the improvement across the State has been broadly driven by the regions with the Rest of Queensland Trend unemployment rate at 5.5%. Trend employment growth in Greater Brisbane is 2.4% pa while in the Rest of Queensland it is 2.3%.

In the North we saw a continuation of the strong data that we have been enjoying for some time. Cairns saw Trend employment lift by another 600 in March which takes the 12 month total to 9,200 (at a rate of 7.1% pa). Townsville saw even greater Trend employment growth adding 1,200 in March for an annual total of 10,900 (at a rate of 10.3% pa). The Trend unemployment rate in Cairns now sits at 5.0% while in Townsville it has fallen below the State level and is now just 5.4%. The scale of the improvement in the labour force in both regions can be clearly seen when we consider the Employment/Population metric below. Cairns now sits at an 11 year high while Townsville is at a 6 1/2 year high.

Obviously the impacts of COVID-19 are yet to be shown in this data but at least it confirms that both regions are facing the challenge from positions of relative strength, particularly CairnsĀ  where Trend employment growth has been quite spectacular since the middle of 2018.

Unfortunately our forecasts for the unemployment picture in both regions is not a pretty one (see here) with Cairns Regional Council area being forecast to see the unemployment rate lift towards 14% by the middle of the year.

The full Conus/CBC Staff Selection Regional Employment Trend data set for QLD 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 – Mar 2020

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