Queensland’s Job Creation: A Tale of Two States

Monday 14 October, 2019 | By: Dan Petrie and Dr Marcus Smith

Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) labour force figures show that the headline unemployment rate in Queensland has been rising on a trend basis throughout this year to the latest August print at 6.44% - the third highest in the nation behind South Australia and Tasmania.

Australian Bureau of Statistics Trend regional labour force data compiled by Conus/CBC Staff Selection shows that unemployment varies quite substantially across the State, ranging from a low of just above 4% in Toowoomba to over 12% throughout the Queensland Outback.


 Youth unemployment is a particularly significant problem in those regions of the State with the highest jobless levels.

This is especially the case across Outback Queensland, which covers inland areas including towns such as Mount Isa, Carpentaria, Barcaldine, Charleville and Longreach.

Across the Outback, over 1 in 4 persons aged under 25 years, 1 in 10 aged between 25 and 44 years, and 1 in 12 above 45 years, are without a job.

Youth Data

Detailed regional statistics provided by the ABS show the number of persons in each SA4 region that have been unemployed for greater than 12 months.


Converting the long-term unemployment statistics to a proportion of the total labour force (number of employed and unemployed persons) in each region provides a more meaningful comparison of statistics between regions.

Accordingly, a similar pattern can be seen when juxtaposed with the unemployment rates within regional areas across the State.
Labour Force2

Moreover, Trend ABS statistics for the median time spent searching for a job indicate that jobseekers in the Outback and Toowoomba regions are spending well over 12 months looking for a job, while the median time is 6 months in Wide Bay and Moreton Bay North.jobs6

It is not surprising to observe relatively high rates of unemployment and sluggish employment growth across Queensland’s regional areas when considering jobs growth in the State over the past decade, which essentially reveals a tale of two states.

Trend labour force figures show that the rate of job creation in the State has slowed dramatically over the past decade and of the 332,100 jobs created on a net basis in Queensland, only 9,620 (2.9%) of these were in the regions located outside of SEQ.

Putting this into perspective, Queensland created almost 539,400 over the decade August 1999 to August 2009, with 440,700 (74%) of those in SEQ and 152,700 (26%) in Regional Queensland.

Similarly, the trend employment figures show that Queensland’s job creation over the last five years has also almost entirely been generated in the south-east corner of the State, with Regional Queensland producing just 6,020 (2.9%) of the 207,560 jobs created on a net basis.



The underlying data shows the Gold Coast has been the major region for job creation in the State during the past five years, despite a moderation occurring in recent months.

Logan-Beaudesert region has also added over 30,000 jobs on a net basis over this time, while other SEQ regions such as the Sunshine Coast, Inner-City and South Brisbane as well as Ipswich have also generated over 20,000.

Regional Queensland job numbers reflect a mixed bag of employment outcomes.

While Cairns has been the major driver of jobs growth in Regional Queensland during recent years, this growth has only barely managed to replace the substantial falls in employment levels recorded within regions located in Northern, Central and South West Queensland.



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