Employment continues to slide in Cairns despite strength across the State

Last week we saw very strong employment growth across the nation and in Queensland. Today’s release of the original regional data allows us to see (through the lens of the Conus/CBC Staff Selection series) how this strength played out across Queensland.

What we find is that most of the growth in employment came from Greater Brisbane. Trend employment in Greater Brisbane is now up 18,800 for the year at a rate of 1.5% compared to just 14,900 in the Rest of Queensland at a rate of just 1.2%.

Looking at the data for our own region we see a far weaker picture. Despite a small drop in employment further falls in participation see the Trend unemployment rate dip again in Cairns (now at 5.6%).

Annual Trend employment growth remains heavily negative (-9.0%) and is now the third worst result in the State behind Outback (-15.2%) and Moreton Bay – North (-10.2%).

Although employment has fallen by 12,500 over the year the unemployment rate remains low due to a sharp decline in participation. The fact that the vast bulk of job losses have come in the middle-aged cohort (-10,000) and yet this cohort’s unemployment rate is only up slightly (to 5.2%) points to a very sharp decline in participation being focused in this area. The converse appears true in the older cohort where, despite employment being virtually unchanged over the year the unemployment rate is up 1.6ppts. In the youth sector we have also seen employment almost unchanged over the year and yet the unemployment rate has fallen very sharply; this points to very severe reductions in the participation rate in this cohort. Note also that full-time jobs have fallen sharply during the year with a far more modest decline in part-time employment (-2,600).

We should also note that the median duration search for jobs has risen sharply in Cairns over the year and now sits as the third highest in the State.

Although the number employed in Cairns is down 12,500 for the year those registered as unemployed is unchanged. We have seen a large decline in the size of the labour force. Analysing  the data as we have it would suggest that this is due to a very sharp fall in participation. However, we think it likely that there has also been a migration of workers from the region as jobs, particularly tourism jobs, dried up and that the population estimates, on which the participation rate is calculated, may be overstating the size of Cairns’ population a this time.

The complete Conus/CBC Staff Selection data set 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 – Feb 2021

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