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  • Gavin King

    Tropic Now editor

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    Mixed bag for Cairns economy at year's end

    The final Cairns Watch report of 2016 finds tourism is up and jobs are being created, but the property and construction sectors still lag behind.

    The final Cairns Watch report of 2016 has painted a mixed picture of the local economy, with the booming tourism industry still not translating into construction and property gains.

    The report by Herron Todd White described a "much stronger" Cairns economy compared to the end of 2015, with jobs being created and strong annual growth in airport passenger numbers.

    But report author Rick Carr said house prices were "slowly easing" and property sales had "steadily reduced".

    Building approvals have also lowered over the past 12 months.

    "New dwelling construction has lowered over the last 12 months in conjunction with the slowdown in land sales in the local property market," Mr Carr writes in the report.

    "House approvals in particular are running at very low levels, now below those experienced at the previous depth of the market in early 2013.

    "The overall building approvals trend for October 2016 stood at 24 new houses and units being approved per month, which is 58.9 percent below the level recorded in October 2015."

    Key points from the final Cairns Watch report of 2016:

    • Airport Passenger Trend: ▲ 2.8 percent (November 2015 to November 2016)
    • Building Approvals Trend: ▼ 58.9 percent (October 2015 to October 2016)
    • Unemployment Rate Trend: ▼ to 5.9 percent (November 2016)
    • Job Ads Trend: ▼ 5.8 percent (November 2015 to November 2016) 

    While the real estate market also ended the year with softer house sales, the unit market was improving.

    "Softer real estate market conditions have seen house sale volumes steadily reduce over the last twelve months, with the number of sales for the September quarter of 2016 down 7.7 percent in trend terms on the corresponding quarter of 2015," the report found.

    "Land sales experienced a similar reduction, down in trend terms by 9.9 percent over the same period, but appear now to be in recovery from the low levels experienced in the middle of this year.

    "Unit sales by comparison are slowly lifting, up by 2.2 percent in trend terms over the period from the September quarter of 2015 to the September quarter of 2016."

    Overall, Mr Carr said the Cairns economy had someway to go before it was firing on all cylinders.

    "Cairns is ending 2016 in a much stronger economic position than twelve months ago, benefiting from a tourism revival that is now feeding through into improved job creation and reduced unemployment," he said.

    "However the economy cannot yet be described as universally buoyant. Property and construction are two sectors that are notably lagging."