It’s not the Public Sector that’s behind Queensland’s relatively good labour market performance

As we noted last week (see here), Queensland’s labour market has been performing relatively well during recent months with total employed up 1.1% in December from a year earlier (while nationwide that figure is a decline of 0.5%). Inevitably, with the Queensland Government’s own Public Service employment data (data only up to Sept 2020) showing a 2.6% y/y increase at a time when total employment in the State was registering a 0.8% y/y decline, there has been plenty of commentary and speculation that the Public Sector (which includes much more than just the State’s own Public Service) was driving Queensland’s performance.

(also see Dr Marcus Smith’s interesting analysis about male/female employment from the QLD Public Service data)

Quarterly data from the ABS for Private and Public Sector employment (to Nov 2020) suggests otherwise. This is a different data-set to the monthly Labour Force numbers so there are some (relatively small) differences; e.g. the quarterly data to Nov suggested a 0.1% y/y decline in total employment rather thanĀ  the monthly data which showed a 0.4% decline (after Dec revisions), but the picture painted is broadly the same.

As at November we saw Australia-wide Public Sector employment up 1.7% y/y while Private Sector employment fell by 1.0%. However, in Queensland the equivalent data showed Public Sector employment unchanged (actually down 0.04%) with Private Sector down just 0.1%. Nevertheless, Public Sector employment remains at a much higher rate in Queensland than across Australia representing 17.9% of total employment compared to 15.3% nationwide. In no small part due to some heady gains throughout 2018 in Queensland.

Compared to the other large states Queensland’s growth in the Public Sector has been relatively muted with both NSW and Victoria seeing a much faster growth than the Sunshine State, where Public Sector employment has actually been falling year-on-year for the past 5 quarters.

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