Af­ter the bust, state grows new jobs

NewsMail - - NEWS | YOUR MONEY - with Brian Parker Brian Parker is a chief economist with Sun­su­per and can be con­tacted on bri­an_­parker@ sun­su­per.com.au

THE end of the min­ing in­vest­ment boom hit the Queens­land and Western Aus­tralian economies par­tic­u­larly hard.

Over the past year or two, how­ever, things have started to im­prove. Bet­ter prices for iron ore and coal have boosted prof­its in min­ing, help­ing con­di­tions in both states.

But this hasn’t brought about a dra­matic resur­gence in min­ing in­vest­ment, and nor is it likely to.

A lower Aus­tralian dol­lar com­bined with surg­ing growth in Chi­nese tourist num­bers has helped give tourism a boost, par­tic­u­larly in Queens­land.

If we look at growth in the vol­ume of spend­ing in both states – state fi­nal de­mand – the best that can be said for WA is things might be sta­bil­is­ing.

But in Queens­land the pic­ture looks quite a bit brighter. The vol­ume of spend­ing in Queens­land has growth for six straight quar­ters. And this is now trans­lat­ing into de­cent jobs growth.

In the year to Septem­ber the num­ber of jobs in Queens­land grew by bet­ter than 4% – com­fort­ably higher than the na­tional fig­ure af­ter sev­eral years of mostly lag­ging be­hind. And what I still find in­ter­est­ing is the re­gional dif­fer­ences.

I’ve writ­ten in pre­vi­ous col­umns that how you feel about the econ­omy de­pends on where you sit – that there has been a good deal of vari­a­tion not just be­tween states, but be­tween dif­fer­ent re­gions within each state.

Queens­land re­mains a case in point, al­though when you look at the main re­gions of Queens­land as de­fined by the statis­ti­cians, the im­prove­ment in jobs is rea­son­ably wide­spread.

Jobs growth is sig­nif­i­cantly bet­ter out­side Greater Bris­bane, al­though there are still sig­nif­i­cant ar­eas where new jobs are scarce.

Over the past year, the num­ber of jobs is up sharply in Cairns (+9.7 per cent, Mackay (+12.3 per cent) and Townsville (+13.8 per cent).

In the Dar­ling Downs and Mara­noa, Wide Bay and Fitzroy, they haven’t seen any im­prove­ment.

At the risk of get­ting into a po­lit­i­cal mine­field, how much does the out­come of the com­ing state elec­tion mat­ter for this re­cov­ery?

Not as much as some might like to think. Pol­i­tics mat­ters, but for a state like Queens­land, fac­tors such as world com­mod­ity prices, in­ter­est rates and the Aus­tralian dol­lar mat­ter much more.

"Over the past year, the num­ber of jobs is up sharply in some re­gional ar­eas and cities.

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