Thursday, July 18, 2013

A lousy set of numbers

 A month ago .........
FNQ is the “shining light” of jobs growth in Queensland as unemployment rate drops to 5%
Member for Cairns Gavin King is elated at the latest employment growth for Far North Queensland, showing the lowest unemployment rate in recent memory and an extra 7200 jobs in May compared with the same month last year.
“Far North Queensland is the shining light in the latest ABS jobs figures with a remarkable drop in unemployment to 5%, down from 9.1% the previous May (2012).
That was the facebooked response from the Member for Cairns after last months "remarkable" unemployment numbers. This month the unemployment rate is back up to 8.3% combined with a participation rate at a record low 64.7%. It's a lousy set of monthly numbers with the unemployment rate being saved by low participation and last months boasted employment growth back to modest levels. That doesn't make it any more or less valid than last months number.

This month the Member for Cairns has posted a photo of a parrotfish on his facebook.

Photo: Cairns MP Gavin King has joined forces with Gavin the parrotfish to launch a unique colouring-in competition for kids at the Cairns Show!

Cairns kids can grab a colouring-in sheet and draw themselves swimming with Gavin the parrotfish for the chance to win a trip to Green Island and an amazing reef Seawalker experience.

Gavin the parrotfish has captured global media attention for his cheeky habit of 'photo bombing' tourists during their Seawalker experience on the Great Barrier Reef.

To enter, visit the LNP display stand in the Fred Moule Pavillion. There are great prizes to be won, including a chance to meet Gavin the parrotfish on the reef!

Why anybody who should know better would be so naïve as to hang their credibility on a single month of this notoriously volatile data series I don't know, but he was very insistent on his methodology and it was what really was, so there! Conus Consulting has posted a rundown on the numbers: FNQ employment rollercoaster

The only way to make any kind of sense of the numbers is to consider our Trend series. This is now showing Trend Unemployment at 7.7%, up from an upwardly revised 7.4% last month. The Trend Unemployment Rate has now risen for the last 3 months from a low of 7.1% in March. It is starting to look like the employment improvements we witnessed from the middle of last year may have run out of steam in this second quarter. Trend employment growth has also fallen and now sits at just 2.3% y/y, down from growth around 6% earlier this year.
Two months ago I noted the regional lottery of employment stats where a high profile Commsec economist had included the Sunshine Coast on a list of regions with the lowest unemployment rate in Australia at just 3.7%. This month that unemployment rate was back up to 8.0% and closer to the other end of the scale.

If there was anything to observe in these numbers it is possibly consistent weakness across regional Queensland in June. The unadjusted unemployment rate in Brisbane and Ipswich actually fell while the 'Balance of Queensland' increased form 5.9% the previous month to 7%. The original 'raw' number for Queensland this month was up from 5.8% to 6.2%. The ABS seasonally adjusted rate increased from 5.9% to 6.4% while the trend rate was steady at 6.0%

Misinformed comments on unemployment statistics for Cairns is certain to follow (ie: it's them dole bludgers up here for the warm weather and registering down at Centrelink) and this week Paul Krugman posted some relevant comments: There Is No “True” Unemployment Rate
"There is no “true” unemployment rate, just various indicators of the state of the labor market."

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