It’s been a rough road to hoe for employment in Townsville. Between the rather rapid deflation of the mining sector and the collapse of QNI (thanks again Clive), local unemployment spiked out to 14.8% in June (the ABS only produces quarterly updates for regional Australia). It wasn’t simply miners and QNI staff who were caught up in this mess either. It had knock on effects for all businesses across the area, and business confidence suffered as a result.
Quite simply, it was a very hard time to find a new job.
Over the last few weeks we have though seen some very encouraging signs that the Townsville job market has turned the corner.
So what exactly are those encouraging green shoots?
- Job numbers on Seek. In our experience this is a crude though quite accurate gauge of business confidence, as well as obviously health of the job market. Last year and early in 2016, Townsville area job numbers hovered around the mid 600s, occasionally pushing into the low 700s. For the last few weeks the Seek job numbers have consistently sat in the high 800s.
- Housing prices were up 2.9% in the June Quarter (source: Real Estate Institute of Queensland). While this isn’t directly linked to employment, it’s a good insight into confidence across the region.
- There are some big projects in the pipeline: the Dugald River Zinc mine, the City Stadium build, the Hells Gate Dam Feasibility study are all within touching distance, and the Adani mine is also slowly grinding that bit closer. Admittedly large volumes of roles are yet to emerge, but again it’s been a great shot in the arm for business confidence.
- The last sign is purely anecdotal, but here at TP when we’ve been contacting recent applicants about roles (both white collar and blue collar), increasingly we’re finding people have picked up work. 3 months back it was a safe bet that someone who wasn’t working 4 weeks ago would still be available and keen. Now it’s proving common that they have landed a position and are no longer available.
In isolation any of those signs might just be a blip, but in combination they form quite an encouraging indication that the Townsville market, and more specifically the job market is looking up.
It remains an employer’s market at this stage, but that may not last long.
There is though one significant factor likely to have an impact on Townsville employment in the coming weeks & months that’s very hard to forecast – restructure at the Townsville City Council. The new CEO of council, Adele Young, has apparently started making changes from day one of her tenure, and next week will be rolling out a restructure of Townsville City Council operations. It will be interesting to see what the changes look like, and how significant they are. It may well involve a flurry of recruitment as the team is reshaped, but could also involve a flurry of redundancies. Time will tell.