Last month, I dissected the Queensland Treasurer’s bold claim that more Queenslanders are working now than were working pre-COVID (check out my 21 November post). I thought it was a bold claim given a) the substantial sampling error at the state level in the ABS Labour Force Survey data and b) that the claim wasn’t supported by the payroll jobs estimates also published by the ABS. So I wasn’t surprised when the November Queensland employed persons (seas. adj.) estimate came in below the March level (see chart below), destroying the Treasurer’s claim last month that “Queensland is the only state in Australia that has put back on every single job lost since the lockdowns started in March”. Based on the November data, we’re 20,000 jobs down on where we were in March and our state unemployment rate is 7.7% compared with a national average of 6.8%.
As I usually say when commenting on the Labour Force data, don’t read too much into month-to-month movements, so we shouldn’t necessarily conclude that the recovery was derailed in Queensland in November. The October employment figure the Treasurer was overly excited about was obviously an over-estimate and the November estimate represents a correction to that.
The economy has definitely been recovering and there are several positive indicators, particularly around consumer and business confidence. Of course, there are risks to the economic outlook, including, most obviously, the potential re-imposition of interstate travel restrictions in response to the Sydney northern beaches COVID cluster. Furthermore, a good deal of the restored confidence is likely related to high levels of government support, which can’t last forever (check out my post Aussies over-confident after being over-compensated by Gov’t for COVID-recession).
Finally, check out Pete Faulkner’s post for some excellent analysis of the data: