Regional labour force shows improvement in June

In common with the national and State data seen last week (see here for details) the regional data for June shows an improvement across many regions.

The Conus/CBC Staff Selection Trend shows a similar story panning out across both Greater Brisbane and the Rest of QLD. In Greater Brisbane Trend unemployment now sits at 7.8% (down from 7.9% in May) while in the Rest of QLD it is 7.7% (down from 7.8%). These falls in the unemployment rate would have been greater were it not for participation recovering earlier losses (up 1.3 ppts in both areas in June). Trend employment growth of about 53,000 in June was made up from a 26,300 increase in Greater Brisbane and the other 26,600 in the regions.

In our own area Cairns added 2,300 to Trend employment and the unemployment rate remained static at 7.3%; participation lifted 1 ppt.

In Townsville Trend employment was up 2,000, the unemployment rate fell to 6.1% and participation lifted by 0.6 ppts. The situation in Townsville is unusual given the very weak labour market that the region was recovering from prior to the lock-downs. Despite this month’s lift in participation it remains at historically low levels (presently just 61.0 against a 3-year average of 63.5; Cairns by comparison sits at 67.2 versus a 3-year average of 64.9) which is flattering the Trend unemployment rate. A more accurate picture of the state of the Townsville labour market can be seen by considering the chart below showing the employment to population ratio.

Yesterday the Treasury projected national unemployment could get as high as 9.25% by the end of the year. This is far higher than our own projections which suggest that we may be at, or close to, the 2020 highs already. The difference would seem to be in the expectation of what Treasury thinks will happen with the new roll-out of JobKeeper 2.0. Treasury are anticipating more than 2 million people, currently being paid under JobKeeper 1.0, to drop off the new scheme in October. This seems to us a wildly optimistic assumption; our own forecasts suggest only about 1.3 million losing access to the scheme. If Treasury are right, and we see these kind of numbers losing JobKeeper, then the unemployment rate will certainly move significantly higher.

Treasury’s original estimation that 6 million would receive JobKeeper turned out to be highly inaccurate with the true number now known to be just 3.5 million. Our hope is that they are wrong again this time and that the JobKeeper safety net still applies to many who will still need it come October.

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 – June 2020

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