Thursday, January 23, 2014

Employment numbers do the Hokey Pokey

The regional labour force statistics from ABS were out today which are likely to reaffirm the perceptions of cynics in our community about these numbers. Last months anomalously low 4.6% unemployment rate did the Hokey Pokey on us and turned itself around to become 8.6% in December. We were not alone.

Last month I also made reference to an unusually low 3% rate on the Sunshine Coast. This also did the Hokey Pokey and became 6.2% again. Both were flagged last month with sample size warnings.

A quick flick through the regional numbers seems to indicate these two were the main contributors to an increase in the unemployment of 'The Bush', which returned to its more typical position with a rate higher than Brisbane. I wont repost the graph again as it doesn't show anything new apart from that.

The seasonally adjusted trend numbers from Conus are the best shot of making sense of where we are at: FNQ jobs data as volatile as ever
Our Conus Trend series shows the unemployment rate in Dec at 6.7%, which is a fall from the Nov plot of 7.0% (which was revised up from 6.5%).
If that seems confusing to you then the link to Conus provides further explanation and detailed analysis. The main concern with this months stats is that every single component was negative although that is also at least partly a reaction to the previous month.

However it would be good to see some more positive trends emerge on the participation rate and also employment which remains below the level a year ago. We are though entering the seasonally weak time traditionally for employment in FNQ.

I posted a graph early last year on the employment numbers in the December quarter v the subsequent March quarter and will do so again with a partial update. These are the raw numbers for average monthly employment for the quarter:

A further decline in reported ABS employment should probably be expected. This is why the seasonally adjusted trend is essential for any comparison.

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