Gavin King

Tropic Now editor

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Jobs market still not firing in Cairns despite major projects and buoyant tourism sector

Despite a skyline boasting more cranes than any other regional city in Queensland and continued strength in the tourism sector, the Cairns jobs market still isn't firing.

Analysis of the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics Labour Force data by economist Pete Faulkner found the Cairns unemployment rate is moving "significantly higher" than the state average.

According to the latest Conus/CBC Staff Selection Trend analysis, the local unemployment rate is 7.4%, compared to the state average of 6.2%.

"Annual Trend employment growth now stands at just -6.8% in Cairns versus +2.9% for QLD, +2.7% in Greater Brisbane and +3.1% in the Rest of Queensland," Mr Faulkner said.

"Annual employment has now been negative for four months."

In brighter news, analysis of the 12-month figures showed most new employment has come in the youth cohort, up by 5600 jobs. But the youth unemployment rate remains stubbornly high due to the increase in the participation rate, with more young jobseekers looking for work.

In contrast, the middle-aged segment of the local jobs market was down by 7300.

"It now appears confirmed that the labour market in Cairns has been weakening for some months despite the apparent strength exhibited by the (very lagged) official annual average numbers," Mr Faulkner said.

"The quarterly Conus Trend Industry Jobs data for May shows that the only sector seeing significant gains over the past year was Healthcare. Declines were seen in Education and Training, Manufacturing and perhaps surprisingly Construction."