Here at CSQ we closely follow the ABS’s Labour Force survey. Its results provide the best vantage point for watching the ebbs and flows of Queensland’s workforce.

Last week the ABS released its August 2015 results with a rare set of numbers that tell us how many Queenslanders were unemployed since 1991, by their last industry of employment.

When combined with the ABS’s regular employment statistics, this data gives us the best available estimate of unemployment trends for Queensland’s construction industry. It also means we can compare our industry’s performance to other industries and other states.

So how do we measure up? Play around with the interactive graph below to find out, or read on for some of the highlights.

Unemployment Rates, by Industry


  • The construction industry is a strong performer relative to other sectors. Our rate of unemployment has been consistently well below the state aggregate for the last 25 years, except for a momentary lapse in the early ‘90s.
  • Unemployment trends echo the major events driving construction activity in our state over the last couple of decades. The engineering construction boom which began around 2001 can be seen in the downward unemployment trend that lasted until late 2007. At this point the trend headed upward—thanks to the GFC—levelling off a few years later. The wind-down of the mining build phase and sluggish recovery in other construction sectors keeps the rate relatively high to today.
  • Construction workers fared better than most in the period following the GFC. If you click on the ‘Post-GFC Trend’ lines you will see a fit of the five years following the GFC-induced unemployment spike in 2009. Construction unemployment bucked the aggregate upward trend over this period, though it seems our fortunes may have reversed over the last year.
  • Construction’s unemployment trends are broadly comparable to other major industries in Queensland. Listed on the chart are the other four of the five biggest industries (measured by contribution to Gross State Product).
  • Compared to the construction unemployment trends in other states and Australia as-a-whole, Queensland construction workers have fared reasonably well since 1991. However, we seem to have struggled more than our interstate cousins in the post-GFC period.