Saturday, April 19, 2014

Good & Bad News Weekend

A very quiet Easter weekend but the Cairns Post has lobbed up a couple of interesting but perhaps dichotomous yarns: Cairns swamped with development applications as activity picks up
CAIRNS is poised to reap the economic rewards of red-tape reduction and rich incentive schemes, with local development applications at a three-year high.
With more than two months left in the financial year, there have already been 386 applications lodged with Cairns Regional Council, outpacing previous years. 
A key indicator of a city’s growth, 60 development applications were lodged with the council in March alone - the highest number received in one month since 2010. The proposals comprise a mix of commercial and residential projects across the city. Building applications are also at a three-year high, while the number of new lots created are on track to be the highest in recent years.
Swamped I tell you! There is even a photograph with the accompanying caption "boom town". While the reported increase is positive and to be welcomed this again needs to be kept in historical perspective of a recovery rather than boom. I'm too lazy to do my own research and there are some nice easy stats and graphs on Cairns available at economy.id.com.au:

 
This is the value rather than number of approvals, both residential and non-residential. I don't think these numbers are adjusted for inflation and certainly don't take into account the substantial increase in Cairns population over this time frame. The numbers themselves at that link also tell a story with Cairns as a % of Queensland at a new low last year and substantially under-representing the proportion of the population and economy.
 
There is something of a dichotomy here for the Post between the boom and the latest employment stats on the same day:  Cairns unemployment figures climb to 10.1 per cent.
Herron Todd White research director Rick Carr said while the region’s unemployment rate typically increased this time of year due to its seasonal workforce, the new figures reflected a weak market.
“Unemployment usually goes up at this time of year. however, in the first three months it has gone up more than usual,” Mr Carr said. “There isn’t a lot of confidence out there. Businesses seem to be more concerned about staying afloat than hiring for the next boom.”
The public sector and mining have taken some attribution there for the weakness in Cairns over the past year. I'm not sure how well this works as an explanation for Cairns?

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