Small Area Labour Market data for March

The Dept of Employment SALM data (Small Area Labour Market) is the only official data that provides a look at the labour markets at Local Govt and SA2 level. Although there are limitations to the data (not least of which is that it is only quarterly) it does provide us with a way of seeing how labour markets have been performing at a more granular level than the monthly SA4 data from the ABS allows.

These numbers are also the last we shall see that give us a sense of what was happening in our local labour markets just prior to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and lock-downs took effect.

The data is generally provided by the Dept as a 4-quarter average. However, hidden away in the Explanatory Notes section of the release is the original, unadjusted quarterly data; it is this original data that we use to estimate our Conus Trend series.

At the Local Govt Area level we see some slight increases in Trend Unemployment Rates registered across the region since Dec. Cairns Regional Council increased to 4.5% (from 4.4%), Cassowary Coast edged higher to 5.4% (from 5.3%), Tablelands Regional Council went up to 5.2% (from 5.0%) while Yarrabah lifted to 59.9% (from 59.5%). Douglas Shire (4.1%) and Mareeba Shire (7.0%) were both unchanged.

To the south both Townsville City (6.8% from 7.0%) and Charters Towers (8.1% from 8.5%) saw good improvements.

At the SA2 level we amalgamate the data into the relevant SA3 areas to try and get around some of the issues of tiny sample sizes. In the Cairns-North SA3 Trend unemployment increased to 2.3% (from 2.2%), in Cairns-South it was up to 5.9% (from 5.7%). In the Innisfail-Cassowary Coast SA3 (which includes Yarrabah) the Trend increased to 7.4% (from 7.2%). Port Douglas-Daintree edged higher to 4.0% (from, 3.9%) while the Tablelands-Kuranda was up to 5.9% (from 5.7%). Taken as a whole these five SA3 estimates provide us with a figure of 5.0% for the whole Cairns SA4 region; this compares with the Conus/CBC Staff Selection Trend for unemployment in March of 5.2% (which is a monthly, rather than quarterly, data-set).

Since March the monthly Conus/CBC Staff Selection Trend has increased to 7.3% in June. As we can see from the chart below the SA4 monthly Trend rate tends to sit in a range between that of the Cairns-South and Port Douglas-Daintree. So when we finally get the June SALM data (due for release towards the end of October) we will undoubtedly see some sharp moves up across all regions.


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