ABS regional labour force data for April reveal increasing unemployment in regional Queensland, particularly in Townsville and the Queensland outback, as regional Queensland endures the mining downturn and drought. Unemployment in the Queensland outback was at 10.4% in April, up from 9.9% in March, and unemployment in Townsville was at 8.9%, up from 8.3% in March, according to Queensland Treasury smoothed estimates of ABS original data (see chart below). A different set of smoothed estimates, from Pete Faulkner of Conus, suggest the situation is even worse in Townsville (April job numbers are horrible for the North):
“Townsville now has the highest level of Trend Unemployment in the State at 10.5%. The ABS original data was a shocking 13.9%!”
Rightly, the Townsville Bulletin has referred to the city’s “jobs crisis”.
Readers of this blog will know I have been concerned about the situation in regional Queensland for some time now, and that I offered some recommendations for boosting employment to the Queensland Jobs Growth Summit last month (see my post on the Summit).
Gene things are ordinary up here at the moment but a couple of small positives out of the Townsville numbers, one is the mass exodus that many predicted hasn’t occurred at this stage, the higher unemployment numbers would indicate many have remained in the town, although the drop in the participation rate is interesting. Recent payments of entitlements for QNI workers would have provided some with the opportunity to wait out and get something local, with real estate prices dropping many would be left in a situation where they simply can’t afford to move. Second is the arrival of new units at Lavarack Barracks and the expansion of others would put Townvsille defence force numbers at over 7000 now, none of these jobs or those of their households are covered in the stats so that would put total person employed numbers up by 10-12,000 in real terms.
Very interesting local information I wasn’t aware of, thanks Glen.
Glen, those are good points about not seeing a mass exodus and the effect that will have on the unemployment rate. What’s worrying (as you note) is the fact that the PR has also fallen sharply. Were it not for that the unemployment rate would be even worse. Indeed, if you look at the employment:working population data (which sees thru the “PR effect”) Townsville has fallen of a cliff! Three years ago Townsville sat near the top in this measure; now its close to the bottom.
Your point about defence force personnel is also a good one and certainly distorts the Townsville data….although the Trend over time still looks pretty horrible even allowing for this effect.
Great to see initiatives like this one – to boost local employment.
It is a real challenge in Queensland to get people to where the jobs are.
Travel costs, accommodation, bonds, relocation costs, temporary accommodation costs, stamp duty, are a real burden to job seekers.
There is so much work that needs to be done in this State – there should not be anyone unemployed. Unemployment is such a waste .
Unfortunately, most of the Billions of dollars that was meant to be directed at solving unemployment by training the workforce, was wasted in the great VET-FEE-HELP and Employment Industry RORT – that is now being neatly swept under the carpet.
Thanks Katrina, what a great initiative and excellent website. Alas certainly many of our education and training dollars have been misdirected.