Thursday, January 24, 2013

FNQ employment at new monthly high

The unemployment rate for the Far North ticked slightly higher in December to 8.4%. The good news is that estimate for employment surged higher to 145,200 which finally surpasses the previous high of October 2008. The higher unemployment rate was a result of an also robust participation rate now up at 71.6%.

That is now the highest participation rate in Queensland with the exception of inner city Brisbane. The employment and participation data are certainly counter to the weak Queensland trend for both over recent months. While browsing the 2011 Census data for the previous post it was noted that while Cairns would score poorly on unemployment rate it would actually have rated relatively highly among the cities on employment to population even at that time.

However, it must be remembered that beyond the typical monthly volatility ABS do not provide seasonally adjusted or trend etimates for regional data so we will have to wait for Conus Consulting to update their numbers on this. The weather has cetainly also been kinder through the latter half of 2012, at least until this week!

Comparisons of employment over the period with other Queensland regions may also be of interest for a subsequent post. Perhaps a reminder also that as Ricardian Ambivalence like to point out the labour force survey methodology is designed principally to measure the unemployment rate rather than employment.


  1. Mark...sorry for the delay in updating the adjusted data...meetings in Cairns all day. They're up now on the blog.

  2. Is the information available just for Cairns rather than Far North? In a month 600 jobs get advertised but we add 5000 to employed? Something does not make sense. Perhaps they are itinerant farm labour?

  3. Hi Rant. I was thinking of a subsequent post which would touch on some of your questions.

    However, be aware that the ABS numbers are derived from a national household survey which conforms to an international standard and are a statistical estimate. This is why I always refer to it as an "estimate" unlike the business editor at the Cairns Post who interpreted it as "5000 people more were hired last month" and included that the previous month "2200 people left the dole queue".

    Ummm, no, that is not the way it should be interpreted at all and this is the kind of MSM journalist ignorance which promotes misundersstanding!

    The unemployment data is sound for its policy purpose at a national level but as would be expected becomes more unreliable as we move down the scale with the sample size for smaller regional areas.

    The numbers shouldn't be regarded as a fixed count as many seem to believe. I suspect I am not making sense so will leave it go for a subsequent post.

    However, the inportant thing is to look at the trends in the data (which have been positive for some continuous months)and not misinterpret an absolute number.

  4. I get it. YEAH :). Thanks. If you ask two houses and they are both unemployed then unemployment would be 100%, ask another two it may drop to 50% so needs quite a few to get a real number. They do not ask enough from here so only over time would it make sense as improving or not.

    I thought the figures would be more accurate. If we have more accurate information then maybe it would be easier to fix what is wrong. Perhaps we need a RBS. Regional Bureau Statistics :)


  5. Just found this, average hours worked lowest in 30 years. FNQ would be much lower.

  6. To an extent yes and I agree that the regional numbers could be more useful. The survey methodology rolls over 8 months with new households coming in each month and those from 8 months ago rolling out.

    "I thought the figures would be more accurate. If we have more accurate information then maybe it would be easier to fix what is wrong."

    The data works nicley on a national level for the RBA to set policy for the currency zone. I suspect if we had more "accurate" regional information this may just have been an excuse to make more mistakes on political intervention!

    Don't forget that not much more than a year ago the current state member for Cairns was advocating a larger public service as an economic policy for Cairns!

    Cairns economy seems to be recovering and if we want to be honest the reality is that it is not because of any action by anybody who now wants to claim crdeit for it!

    P.S. I agree totally on the RBS. The CairnsWatch reports which Rick Carr now provides he once did years ago through JCU. Information on regional economics in Australia is quite poor and I could put a boot into JCU on this also!

  7. "Just found this, average hours worked lowest in 30 years. FNQ would be much lower."

    Yep mate, such data in the national numbers has been well documented, is not denied, an has been widely commented on. What is your point?

    I could go back and look at census data which would probably show Cairns is closer to average than many think? We don't have accurate regional numbers sadly however your position is irrationally irrelevant anyway! Thanks!

  8. Why irrelevant? A high participation rate and higher numbers of workers could well be because the famiy have to send Grandpa out on lollipop patrol for 5 hours a week.

    Thanks for your response, appreciate your time.