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  • 5 Apr 2021 11:31 AM | Dr Marcus Smith (Administrator)

    February's Retail Trade data for Queensland compiled by the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed robust growth over the month across most industry subgroups after a pullback in January.

    Notwithstanding substantial falls in states including Victoria and Western Australia over the month, retail turnover in Queensland as well as New South Wales bucked the headline slump in sales, which fell nationally by -$237.9 million.

    Queensland's February retail turnover grew by $67.6 million (+1.1%) on a seasonally adjusted basis to $6.385 billion, with a good month for department stores (+$37.6m) and clothing (+$31.1m), and despite a moderation in turnover for supermarket and grocery stores (-$67.5m) as well as liquor sales (-$13.8m) across the state.

    Sales in February compared with the same month last year were $687.5 million (+12.1%) higher, with substantial increases in turnover recorded in supermarkets and grocery stores, homewares, hardware, building and gardening supplies as well as liquor.

    On an annual, 12-month basis Queensland's total retail turnover to February was $74.655 billion, which is $7.752 billion (11.6%) higher than over the previous 12-month period.

    Sales in supermarkets and grocery stores continued to dominate retail sales activity across the state, constituting around one-third (33.4%) of total annual turnover growth.

  • 30 Mar 2021 9:15 AM | Dr Marcus Smith (Administrator)

    In this article I am going to touch on two threads: the results of the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) labour force survey for February, 2021; and, the vexed issue of the role of the public service in Queensland.

    Having worked as an eager worker within the Queensland public service during the brief Newman years of Government, and more recently as the former Chief Economist at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ), I have always held a critical view toward the role and delivery of public services in Queensland.

    That view is drawn from my own experiences working for the Queensland state government; in seeing firsthand the two impulses of how public managers are forever counting paperclips and staples to preserve their current annual budgets, while at the same time trawling for new sources of public funding that of course must by exhumed from the private sector by means of new taxes and levies on business.

    My key role at CCIQ was to analyse and report on the quarterly findings of the Suncorp/CCIQ Pulse survey of business sentiment in Queensland, which I oversaw from September 2018 to March 2020 and I read every response by business respondents across the state.

    Accordingly, one common thread that emerged as an incendiary topic of frustration for the state’s business community, for each-and-every quarter, was concerns regarding the size of the public service in Queensland, the inefficiencies within service delivery (loosely defined as red and green tape), and the level of state government debt that has been accumulated in providing those services.

    Addressing the former issue of red and green tape, Robert MacDonald produced an article that was recently published in InQueensland. The article highlighted the specter that bureaucracy has effectively gone mad in Queensland, with a simple corner shop requiring over thirty permits to operate, and the Productivity Commission of Queensland estimating it was costing Queensland business around $7 billion per year.

    Regarding the latter issue of the state’s fiscal position, one does not need to go further than the Queensland Auditor’s General annual reporting on the Queensland Government’s public finances, which for at least the past two years (i.e. even prior to the COVID pandemic), has raised concerns about public expenses outpacing revenues in the state and the sustainability of the public debt being accumulated in the meantime.

    Now on to the ABS labour force statistics and what these have tended to indicate was going on in the state’s jobs market up to February, 2021.

    First, quarterly, detailed labour force data compiled by the ABS for the previous November 2020 quarter print indeed showed that year on year the largest increase in employment was in public administration and safety at over 18,500 persons, illuminating that public sector hiring was effectively leading employment growth in the state during 2020.

    And this was further evident in the single touch payroll statistics introduced by the ABS released monthly to provide another useful indicator in which to compare with the labour force survey and to gauge how the jobs market in the state was travelling through the COVID-19 pandemic across the 19 ANZSIC industry sectors.      

    Yet, fast forward to the latest drop, and a comparison to employment at February last year indicates that some green shoots emerged within Queensland’s private sector, particularly in retail trade, financial and insurance services, wholesale trade and manufacturing.

    Comparing employment within both the private and public sectors, as a colleague and top Regional Economist, Pete Faulkner from Conus Consulting has pointed out in a recent blog article, the statistics indicate that the key driver of Queensland’s labour market performance has indeed been within the private sector and not the public sector.

    Or course, economists are eagerly waiting in anticipation for the Queensland Government’s own biannual workforce statistics to be released for March, 2021 to be able to glean just what has been happening within the Queensland Government’s various departments.

  • 25 Mar 2021 5:35 PM | Dr Marcus Smith (Administrator)

    Queensland's February 2021 detailed labour force statistics by SA4 region including unemployment rates and year-on-year changes to the number of employed and unemployed persons. Special thanks to Conus/CBC Staff Selection for compiling the smoothed series.

    Seasonally adjusted series are adjustments made to the original data to smooth out seasonal factors that influence each month over the year, while the trend series is produced from allocating weights to the current month as well as prior months to smooth over volatility in the survey sampling.

  • 22 Mar 2021 3:33 PM | Dr Marcus Smith (Administrator)

    While much has been said by economists and the State Government about the effect of Queensland’s health outcomes in its labour force statistics since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, little has been mentioned about the role its industry composition relative to other states has played in employment outcomes.

    Accordingly, it is interesting to compare the changes in employment composition by industry of Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria from a period at the outset of the pandemic to one in more recent times.

    The Australian Bureau of Statistics publish a quarterly, detailed labour force series that provides a breakdown of employment within each ANZSIC sector by state and territory.

    With the most recent being to November 2020 (the February print due shortly on 25th March), the following statistics show that the largest employment sectors for Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria in November in 2019.

    While Health Care and Social Services is by far the largest employing industry for all states in November 2019, for Queensland, sectors including Accommodation and Food Services, Public Administration and Safety, Other Services, Rental Hiring and Real Estate Services as well as traditional industries including Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing and Mining represented a relatively larger proportion of total state employment.

    Fast forward to November 2020 and comparing November year on year to avoid seasonal factors - what a difference a year like 2020 has made.

    In Queensland, the largest number of job losses were in industries including Accommodation and Food Services, Professional, Scientific and Technical Services, Construction and Other Services.

    However, there were substantial gains in Public Administration and Safety, Financial and Insurance Services and traditional industries including Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing and Mining.

    Interestingly, in contrast to large falls in New South Wales and Victoria, employment in Manufacturing actually increased in Queensland.

    Considering the proportional changes within industry employment composition across the Queensland economy over the year to November 2020, not only has hiring in the public sector in administration and safety been the largest source of employment growth in the state, but Queensland’s traditional primary industries have also been substantial drivers of job creation in addition to Financial and Insurance Services.

  • 19 Mar 2021 5:21 PM | Dr Marcus Smith (Administrator)

    National, state and territory population data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics for the September quarter, 2020 show that Queensland experienced the greatest quarterly as well as annual population growth in the nation in both absolute and relative terms.

    Over the quarter, net interstate migration into Queensland led the nation with a population increase of 8,661 persons (+0.17%) comprised of positive net internal migration of 7,237, a natural increase (births less deaths) of 7,120 persons, which was offset by a negative net overseas net migration (arrivals less departures) of -5,696 persons.

    The yearly statistics to September show a similar story, with Queensland's population growth of 68,175 (+1.33%) the highest in the nation in both absolute and relative terms.

    Again, positive net interstate migration to Queensland of 28,571 persons was a key driver of population growth with the state receiving an influx of outbound residents from the south-eastern seaboard states in particular, where New South Wales registered negative net interstate migration of -20,388 persons and Victoria -3,536 persons over the year to September.

    While quarterly net interstate migration into Queensland during September is above the historical state average of 5,914 persons from June 1981 to September 2020, it is important to acknowledge that recent levels of net internal migration into the state is not as strong as during past periods including between the late 1980s and mid 1990s as well as more recently in the beginning to mid 2000s.

    Nevertheless, above average population growth is a welcome sign for the state  economy with a simple linear regression line showing population has a strong positive association with economic output, with every additional person being associated with a $116,880 increase in gross state product.

  • 18 Mar 2021 5:26 PM | Dr Marcus Smith (Administrator)

    Labour force data released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed that 88,700 jobs (+0.7%) were created across Australia over the month with the national unemployment rate falling from 6.3% in January to 5.8% in February on a seasonally adjusted basis.

    Queensland put on around 24,000 jobs over the month (+0.9%) with full-time employment increasing by almost 53,800, which offset a fall in part-time positions of -29,900.

    On a year on year basis, the number of employed persons is up around 33,600 on February last year (+1.3%), with total male employment up 18,500 and total female employment up 15,100.

    The number of unemployed persons in the state fell also over the month by -23,000 as Queensland's headline unemployment rate fell -0.8% to 6.1%, with the male unemployment rate of 6.4% higher than the female rate of 5.8%.

    Despite the welcome monthly improvement, Queensland maintains the second highest unemployment rate in the nation behind South Australia.

  • 14 Mar 2021 9:16 AM | Dr Marcus Smith (Administrator)
    The Queensland government has defended the rise in public sector wages growth of over last year as the result of the catching up on wage freezes across the sector. Yet the fact remains that over the 2 years, December 2018-20, public sector wage growth in the state was 3.9% (average of 1.94% per annum), which was substantially above private sector wage growth of 3.2% (average of 1.62% per annum) and above inflation (Brisbane CPI) of 3.1% (average of 1.54% per annum).

  • 13 Mar 2021 9:07 AM | Dr Marcus Smith (Administrator)

    ABS corrective services statistics for December quarter, 2020 in Queensland show that the number of persons in full-time custody was up 5.6% (494) since last December quarter. Breaking down the stats, the number of males in full-time custody was up 5.9%, the number of females up 2.1%, the number non-indigenous persons was up 4.5%, while the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons was up 7.8% year on year at December 2020.

    Queensland Government are going to need a bigger boat, with more jails, and with population growth they will also need more dams, more roads and more rail - and not the Brisbane inner city underground-type.


  • 9 Mar 2021 8:53 AM | Dr Marcus Smith (Administrator)

    The Federal HomeBuilder grants have been well received especially in Queensland, with ABD data showing a substantial pick-up in building approval activity and loan commitments in the state driven by positive net interstate migration.

    But on face value the banks are tilted up on mortgages as it is, before the RBA interventions to buy up all the state governments debt that investors in the international markets won't buy.

    This implies that, while the RBA keep printing, state government's can obfuscate  "market discipline” in the meantime as investors would otherwise typically punish poor financial management by demanding higher interest rates on their debt issues.

  • 6 Mar 2021 4:58 PM | Ian Reynolds (Administrator)

    ABS National Accounts data for December, 2020 show Australian living standards (proxied by RGDP per capita) have grown positively for the second consecutive quarter since the free falls observed in March and particularly the June quarters, but remain -1.8% down on December last year.

    Australian household savings rate has also been retreating after the recent highs due to the early superannuation release, as well as Commonwealth Government's JobKeeper and JobSeeker programs.

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