The ABS unemployment rate in the Far North fell to just 5% in May. No longer are we near last in Australia on this score and that's now below the Queensland unemployment rate. The Cairns Post will likely break out the champagne and the King Parrot ruffle his plumage and squawk. However, some of the underlying numbers were not quite so positive.
As so often the key driver in these volatile numbers was the participation rate which fell to 64.9%. That is almost a new low with the very wet March 2012 being the only lower month at 64.7%. Within that the male participation rate was easily the lowest since the series began and has now 8.6 percentage points below last August and down 2.4 percentage points for the month.
Male employment was also slightly down on the month although the estimate for total number employed in the Far North remains well above levels a year ago. So the improving trend and gains in employment have been sustained.
It should also be noted that last month I made reference to the regional employment data as a lottery with the winners for April being West Morton and Sunshine Coast. Both substantially reversed a large part of those gains this month.
Update: A couple of posts at Conus: