After the bust, state grows new jobs
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.