Cairns and Townsville Trend employment report

For the fifth consecutive month Trend employment in Cairns lifted again in August (+600), although we remain 2.1% down from a year ago.

The growth was split between full-time and part-time employment, although full-time employment is still down for the year. Once again most of the full-time gains came from males while females saw larger increases in part-time work. Over the course of the year all the decline in employment has come in the female cohort and that in turn has been driven by a steady decline in female participation (reversing the moves we saw during the COVID period).

In recent month we have made note of some anomalous data in the ABS original data for Cairns. While that data does now appear to have rectified itself, we see an upward revision to the July unemployment rate to 2.8% (from 2.6%). However, this month the rate once again falls to the record low level of 2.6%. It is clear that, despite some contraction in the number employed over the year (caused by a fall in participation) the Cairns labour market remains tight.

The labour market strength in Townsville continues to impress. Another 1,300 added to Trend employment sees another record high recorded.

Of particular significance is the fact that the participation rate has continued to lift and now sits at 73.7 which is comfortably the highest in any regional area in Queensland. However, given the very high participation rate, and the fact that it has moved even higher again this month, we see the Trend unemployment rate lift once again this month to 3.9% (its highest level since Oct 2021. Nevertheless, this move up in the unemployment rate, coming as it does from moves up in participation rather than declines in employment, does little to cloud the picture of a very strong labour market.

Another indicator of the strength of the Townsville labour market is the fact that all (and more) of the employment gains have come in the full-time sector (+9,300 for the year) which works out as a very healthy 10% annual growth rate.

Annual total Trend employment growth remains very strong (+6.5%) in Townsville compared to 2.1% across Queensland.

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