Having grown up in Townsville I’m very aware of the intense rivalry between Townsville and Cairns, which is partly a battle over which city should win the meaningless title of capital of North Queensland (see Is Townsville or Cairns the capital of North Qld?). The Townsville-Cairns rivalry was a feature of a report last week on new ABS data showing Cairns has more self-employed people than Townsville, with the report suggesting Townsville has it easier than Cairns because it has so many more public service jobs. The Cairns Post reported:
CAIRNS is the self-employed capital of northern Australia according to new figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Cairns economist Bill Cummings said ABS figures confirmed that Cairns led the way as a private enterprise city.
The greater city area, which also includes the Tableland, Cassowary Coast and the Douglas shire, had 24,363 businesses with 10,634 “unincorporated” or run by self-employed businesspeople.
By comparison Townsville has 18,175 and 7418, Darwin 10,986 and 5760 and Hobart 16,972 and 8362.
Of course, comparing absolute numbers could be misleading and it would be desirable to adjust for population differences, which I’ve done in the maps below by simply taking the number of owner-managers of unincorporated businesses (which a lot of tradies are) as a percentage of population. The claim regarding Cairns being ahead of Townsville in this regard checks out.
Here’s the Queensland map: