Nov 21, 2017

Unemployment is higher in regional Queensland than the more populous south east corner, but the focus on ‘big’ projects like the Adani coal mine, building more roads and new power plants doesn’t address the problem.

Research shows these big projects bring only a temporary employment boost, and do little to enhance skills or create enduring local businesses.  This applies to the big things in our capital cities too, like Cross River Rail.

For mine, what Queensland (the whole of the country, for that matter) needs is investment in skills that will create small businesses and local incomes.

Some statistics

  • Some 40,000 people are unemployed across the eleven major Queensland regions, which equates to a 7.2% unemployment rate (according to the regular ABS labour force survey), and just 1,200 new jobs have been created across these eleven areas over the last five years.
  • In contrast, whilst about 100,000 people are unemployed across south east Queensland, the average unemployment rate is 5.8% and some 86,500 new jobs were created across SEQld over the past five years.
  • Looking forward, some 188,000 new jobs are expected to be created across Queensland over the next five years. A bit optimist, I think!  More importantly, four out of five (82%) of these new jobs are expected to be in SEQld.
  • The median household income across the major Queensland regional towns is $67,500, compared to $80,000 across SEQld.
  • Over the next five years, just 10% of the new jobs across the major Queensland regions are expected to be higher paying jobs, with three-quarters being in lower paying positions. Up to half of the new positions across SEQld, over the same time period, are expected to be in higher or mid-level paying occupations.
  • There are 425,000 registered businesses across Queensland, of which 61% are solo operators (no employees) and a further 27% employ between one and four people. Just 613 Queensland businesses (that’s 0.1%) employ more than 200 people.
  • When breaking down the business registrations by industry type, we find that construction, with 73,000 businesses (or 17% of the total) is the largest in Queensland. Some 50,000 Queensland businesses (12%) work in real estate and a further 35,000 businesses (8%) involve financial or insurance services.

So, some 37% of Queensland businesses appear to benefit from new construction.  So, it is little wonder that Queensland keeps on pushing for ‘big’ things.  These projects, almost always, involve more debt, tax and rate payers’ monies, dubious budget estimates and incredulously economic/social multipliers.

Queensland seems to be caught in a vicious loop.  The ‘build it and they will come’ edict doesn’t seem to work anymore.  Maybe it never did.

Queensland is really a place of small business, with many on limited incomes.  The outlook isn’t great either, especially when it comes to wages growth or better paying occupations.

It is little wonder that there is a large protest vote coming this Saturday in Queensland.

Back to the top

My introduction came from a great short article written by John Cole in The Conversation, a few weeks back.  Make sure you take a look at the hyperlinks in this article – especially the one about 49 small communities innovating and also the two articles about what’s happening in Europe.  There are some smart cookies out there.

I am not anti-mining or resource extraction.  But we need to do more than just dig.  We shouldn’t be allowing foreigners to control our core infrastructure.  We, Australian citizens, should deliver the infrastructure, maximise its use and charge companies – overseas or not – accordingly.

And I agree with John when he says that Townsville, Rockhampton, and Gladstone are now pitching to become bases for FIFO workers, rather than drive their own local economic development.  These cities are punting on the next big mining project.

And our new Regional Queensland Outlook Report clearly illustrates the impact of the boom-bust cycle, which is evitable, when almost all your eggs are placed in one basket.

New Outlook Reports

We have just completed two new Outlook Reports: the first report covering the eleven major urban areas in South East Queensland and the second document focusing on the eleven major urban areas across Regional Queensland.

Go here to find out more.

We also sourced our Australian Pulse Point Report in the Missive.   This report is also available on our website.

Contact us if you wish to buy more than one report.  Deals abound. 

Margaret Wolfe is still available

A change is as good as a holiday, but it does help if you have some cash. To contact Margaret directly go here: or to read more, go here.

If you want to connect with me about this matter, best via email

Until next time,


Michael Matusik


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