CommSec’s latest State of the States report which was released Monday reported Queensland in fifth position among Australia’s eight states and territories. On Monday afternoon, 612 ABC Brisbane’s Steve Austin interviewed Deputy Premier-Treasurer Jackie Trad on the state of the economy, particularly the jobs market. Recall that Queensland’s unemployment rate at 6.5% is much higher than the national average unemployment rate of 5.2% (see Queensland Treasury’s Labour Force brief). As Trad suggested in the interview, this is partly due to demographic differences which are reflected in our higher labour force participation rate. However, the differential in participation rates (66.5% in Queensland vs 66.1% nationally) explains less than half of the 1.3 percentage point difference in state and national unemployment rates. We need to dig deeper to find out why we are under-performing.
Among other questions, Steve asked the Treasurer why, if Queensland’s population growth is so strong, partly due to a pickup in net interstate migration, it hasn’t kick started the building industry and the broader economy? Trad rightly pointed to a “lag effect” and to the over-supply of apartments in Queensland. She could have also mentioned that our population growth rate is not that impressive in historical comparison, nor is the current rate of interstate migration particularly impressive (see chart below).
You can listen to the audio (from 2:02:15) of Steve’s interview of Jackie Trad before it self-destructs next week.
Incidentally, I’d like to applaud Queensland Treasury for seeking to hire a Chief Economist:
As I’ve mentioned before, I’d like to see a return to the level of investigation into the drivers of Queensland’s economic performance which was occurring in the late nineties and early 2000s when the Office of Economic and Statistical Research was active.