Regular readers will know that I have been a bit skeptical about the State Government’s overly optimistic statements regarding the Queensland economy (e.g. see yesterday’s post). The economy has certainly been resilient at the end of the mining boom, but it is still relatively weak. This was confirmed today by the new ABS Labour Force Survey data for January, which show an increase in the seasonally adjusted Queensland unemployment rate from 5.9 per cent in December to 6.4 per cent in January (see chart below). Nationally, the unemployment rate increased from 5.8 per cent to 6.0 per cent.
Alas, the weak economic conditions in Queensland are likely to persist over 2016. As I noted yesterday, both private and public sector investment spending have fallen in recent quarters. And I know that the shortage of major infrastructure projects has many in the business community concerned. 2016 is going to be a lean year.
A soft patch? Trend employment growing at an annual rate of 3 1/2%? I’d love to see what you think strong growth looks like!
Thanks for the comment, Jim. Fair point, but I’d say it’s not strong enough if the unemployment rate is remaining above 6 per cent.
Gene, I know you’re not a big fan of the Trend data but I’d argue that it’s a long bow to suggest that the labour market in QLD is in a soft patch. The second chart in the following post, I think, makes the case pretty strongly that we are actually seeing healthy jobs growth so long as Trend jobs can increase by more than around 6,000 a month. http://www.conus.com.au/2016/02/after-a-stellar-run-the-jobs-data-disappoints/
Yes, thanks Pete. Perhaps soft patch wasn’t the right choice of words, but I’m still not very optimistic about the state of the economy. I am finding it hard to reconcile the employment growth data with what I’m hearing around town.
I’m increasingly sceptical of the employment data. You make an excellent point that if employment is growing strongly at 3.5% why is unemployment still relatively high at 6%? And why is there serious concern about the economy in society to the extent the RBA hasn’t raised interest rates for a long time and a PM was toppled (partly due to the economy)? It’s curious that when I talk to people in the white colour professions such as finance and law professions as well as numerous blue collar professions such as truck drivers in different geographical areas of Australia they talk about difficulty of finding work rather than an abundance of new opportunities. I can’t square the employment data and my personal experience and conversations in my own mind. The question I suspect then boils down to – Do you trust the data or the “feel” you get from other people? I know which view I’d trust.