Trend unemployment rates fall across the QLD regions

Today’s release by the ABS of the monthly regional labour force data for August allows us to update the Conus/CBC Staff Selection data-sets for the Queensland regions. The strong data at the national and State level reported last week (see here for details) was reflected in generally better results across all regions of the State.

Greater Brisbane saw the Trend unemployment rate drop to 7.4% (7.3% s.a.) while in the Rest of QLD it fell to 7.5% (7.6% s.a.). While both areas have lost a similar number employed over the year (40-45,000) the difference is that Greater Brisbane has seen the vast bulk of the losses (31,400 of 45,100) in the part-time sector while in the Rest of QLD it’s full-time jobs being lost (-41,900) with a small gain (+2,100) in part-time positions. Job losses in the middle-age sector across the Rest of QLD (-29,000) have been far more than in Greater Brisbane (-18,400); it is this age group where the bulk of full-time positions sit and therefore this greater loss in the regions helps to explain the disparity with Greater Brisbane full-time employment.

In our own region Cairns added just 200 to Trend employment but this, combined with a drop in participation, saw the Trend unemployment rate fall to 6.7% (5.0% s.a.). In Cairns all the job losses this year (down 5,500) have been in the full-time sector. This may come as a surprise when we consider the impact of the slow-down in the tourism market which is heavy with part-time work. However, we believe that JobKeeper has had a major distorting effect in this sector with many employees still counting as employed even with little or no tourism work on offer. The changes to eligibility of JobKeeper 2.0 which cut in at the end of Sept may result in some additional unemployed from the tourism industry; so we may see part-time employment fall further in coming months.

Townsville, despite coming from a low base last year, has weathered the COVID-19 storm remarkably well. Indeed, Trend employment in August is now higher than it was a year ago (and only down 2,800 down from March this year) and the Trend unemployment rate just 5.0%. However, we should note that participation in Townsville remains at historically very low levels; any return to the kind of levels seen a few years ago (69 six years ago versus 62.5 today) would likely mean a much higher unemployment rate. Nevertheless, it is clear that Townsville has done significantly better than many other regions. Quarterly industry employment data for the region suggests that the strength is largely on the back of very robust agricultural employment.

Mackay, heavily reliant on the mining sector, has been another stand-out performer. Trend employment is up 5.9% y/y and the Trend unemployment rate just 6.5%. The quarterly data shows that the Healthcare sector in Mackay has also registered strong employment growth this year.

The full Conus/CBC Staff Selection Regional Employment s.a. & Trend data 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 & s.a. QLD – Aug 2020



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