13 April, 2021
Mixed bag for the local economy
THE Cairns Report launches with a mixed bag of findings on the local economy for April.
A new monthly snapshot of the Cairns and Far North QLD economy has been released with a range of surprising bright spots on the horizon mixed with some continued grey clouds in employment and tourism.
The new “dashboard of key economic indicators” for the region is a free resource for business, government, investors and the broader community highlighting the latest data and trends in a range of fields including property, tourism, construction, the labour market and more.
The Cairns Report editor Gavin King hopes the local business community, politicians and councils share and utilise the monthly report to encourage investment and spark debate about the economic needs of the region.
Key findings from the inaugural edition of The Cairns Report, launched on April 7, include:
- The Cairns unemployment rate has risen to 6.5%, contrary to falls in the national and Queensland unemployment rates
- Total employment has fallen in Cairns, again contrary to trends nationally and statewide
- House prices and median rents have both risen due to a continued shortage of stock on the market
- Building approvals in Cairns continue to shine with a remarkable 107.6% increase from a year ago, resulting in the highest level of approvals in 11 years
- It comes as no surprise that passenger movements at Cairns Airport have sunk more than 50% compared to a year ago, though the airport performed well with certain routes against other airports across Australia
- The Google Mobility Index confirms the relative freedom of movement for residents in Cairns versus the national median
The Cairns Report is edited by Gavin King with data analysis by Pete Faulkner from CONUS and support from three highly respected national companies with a strong local presence: Belle Property, Grant Thornton and Holding Redlich.
Joe Mendiolea from Grant Thornton said the labour market in Cairns faced a range of challenges.
“Apart from general concerns over the end of JobKeeper, we have clients telling us they’re facing difficulties filling vacant positions – we expect the task of finding skilled staff will be a key challenge for Cairns businesses over coming months,” Mr Mendiolea.
According to Ranjit Singh from Holding Redlich – who is also Cairns President of the Urban Development Institute of Australia - the city’s residential construction sector is extremely buoyant.
“Government stimulus such as Home Builder, low interest rates and housing affordability has led to something very closely resembling a residential building boom in Cairns,”
“Government stimulus such as Home Builder, low interest rates and housing affordability has led to something very closely resembling a residential building boom in Cairns,” Mr Singh said.
Nicholas Slatyer from Belle Property was similarly upbeat about the local property market.
“The prices we’re achieving are at the higher end of our expectations and properties are selling quite quickly,” Mr Slatyer said.
“Momentum is definitely on the side of the seller. There’s no doubt whatsoever that the lack of available property for sale is driving competition between buyers.”
The Cairns Report editor Gavin King said the level of optimism in the Cairns economy, despite continued headwinds in tourism, was surprising.
“Residential construction and real estate lead the way in terms of positive results in the local economy, along with big announcements in the maritime precinct, government spending on the post-COVID 19 recovery and the potential for regional population growth from capital cities. There are also notes positive signs on the horizon for accommodation bookings and recent advice from Qantas that international flights could resume in late October,” Mr King said.
“There are however some grey clouds in the labour market with the end of JobKeeper and the ongoing impact on the tourism sector of international border closures and state-sanctioned lockdowns.”
The Cairns Report is free to download each month at www.cairnsreport.com.au. Email subscribers get early access to the report before it’s released to the public by signing up on the Cairns Report website.