With the JobKeeper support ending there had been concern that we would see a drop in employment levels in Cairns as businesses still suffering from the loss of international visitors had to let staff go. Although this is early days, and we have only one month of post-JobKeeper data to go on, the evidence so far is positive.
Trend employment lifted in April (+1,000) with 70% of those full-time positions. The number registered as unemployed also fell (down 300) which suggests that the post-JobKeeper lay-offs may not have (yet) eventuated as feared. The Trend unemployment rate fell to 5.3%, although this is flattered by the fact that participation has fallen sharply over the year. While Trend employment is down 4,300 since April 2020 the number unemployed is also down (-2,100) meaning that 6,400 fewer people are in the Cairns labour force than at this time last year.
The fact that youth employment is down 2,300 and yet the youth unemployment rate has fallen to 10.7% in the past 12 months points to the fact that a large number of those leaving the labour force will have been youth. This is hardly surprising given the heavy reliance of the tourism-dependent businesses, such as accommodation, leisure and food service, on young workers.
In Townsville employment growth was more modest (+300) with all of this coming from part-time positions. However, over the year Townsville has added 4,300 to Trend employment and the unemployment rate has fallen to 5.5%. Trend unemployment has only dropped by 500 since April last year, despite the pick-up in employment, so we have seen an increase in the labour force of 3,800 with participation up (in stark contrast to Cairns). The fact that the median duration looking for work in Townsville has also dropped over the year (by 3 weeks to 17 weeks) also points to underlying strength in the labour market.
The full Conus/CBC Staff Selection Regional Employment data is available for download below. Please feel free to use this data but kindly acknowledge Conus/CBC Staff Selection when you do so.