AAP FactCheck

Restoring confidence in public statements by independently testing and verifying the facts

Is unemployment in the Townsville region twice the national average, with youth unemployment above 17 per cent and one in five youths jobless?

By Brian Kelly and Louise Evans

The Statement

“We are almost double the ­national unemployment ­average, our youth unemployment is over 17 per cent, one in five young people in this city doesn’t have a job.”

Labor MP for Herbert Cathy O’Toole. April 22, 2019.

The Analysis

Cathy O’Toole the ALP MP for the north Queensland seat of Herbert is urging fellow politicians to support the opening of mining and jobs in the Galilee Basin, to assist voters in her area, and especially young voters, who are struggling to get work.

AAP FactCheck examined Ms O’Toole’s claim that her area has almost double the national unemployment, youth unemployment above 17 per cent and one in five youths jobless. [1]

Ms O’Toole holds Herbert by just 37 votes and a margin of 0.02 per cent, making it the most marginal electorate in Australia. [2]

Herbert takes in the city of Townsville and predominantly its northern surrounds plus Magnetic and Palm Islands. [3] It has 104,815 enrolled voters and a population of 189,429. [4] [5]

According to Population Australia 2019 figures, the main employment industry is public administration and safety, accounting for 19.7 per cent of jobs. Only 3.5 per cent of jobs are engaged in mining. [4]

As a result, unemployment and especially youth unemployment in Herbert is a major issue in the 2019 federal election campaign. [2]

According to 2019 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australia’s national unemployment average is 5.0 per cent. [6]

According to the federal Department of Jobs and Small Business Labour Market Information from February 2019, Townsville’s unemployment average is 8.0 per cent. [7]

Based on these figures, AAP FactCheck found Ms O’Toole’s first claim that her area had “almost double” the national unemployment average to be false. The true figure is 1.6 times the national rate of unemployment.

Regarding youth unemployment, Queensland government Statistician’s Office data shows the Townsville region’s youth unemployment was 17.3 per cent in December 2018. [8]

Based on this data AAP FactCheck found Ms O’Toole’s second claim that the area had a youth unemployment rate “above” 17 per cent to be true.

Young unemployed people in Australia are generally classified as being aged from 15-24 years. [9]

ABS data shows there were 30,545 Townsville citizens aged between 15-24 in 2017. [10]

Of this 15-24 age group, 17.3 per cent are unemployed according to Queensland government Statistician’s Office data. That is equivalent to 5284 people, which is close to Ms O’Toole’s claim of one in five out of work. The true figure is one in 5.78 people out of work.

AAP FactCheck found Ms O’Toole’s third claim that one in five Townsville young people are without work to be mostly true.

AAP FactCheck concludes Ms O’Toole’s three claims to be “somewhat true” overall. Her first claim the area had “almost double” the national unemployment average was false. Her second claim her area had a youth unemployment rate “above” 17 per cent was true. Her third claim that Townsville had one in five jobless is also true.

The Verdict

  • Mostly True – Mostly accurate, but there is a minor error or problem.

The References

1. 'Herbert MP Cathy O’Toole demands three local state MPs sign Galilee Basin pledge', by Madura McCormack. Townsville Bulletin. April 22, 2019: https://www.townsvillebulletin.com.au/news/herbert-mp-cathy-otoole-demands-three-local-state-mps-sign-galilee-basin-pledge/news-story/20f16d10f3b57fb326501c2d61a9e79f

2. ‘The seats to watch in the 2019 federal election: Herbert, held by Cathy O’Toole’, by Claire Bickers. The Courier Mail. February 13, 2019: https://www.couriermail.com.au/news/national/federal-election/the-seats-to-watch-in-the-2019-federal-election-herbert-held-by-cathy-otoole/news-story/1ba42dbc79ab9d876a94124cc25c38e4

3. ‘Commonwealth Electoral Division of Herbert (Qld)’. Australian Electoral Commission. December 15, 2009: https://www.aec.gov.au/Elections/federal_elections/2010/profiles/qld/herbert.htm

4. ‘Population Australia, Townsville population 2019’: http://www.population.net.au/townsville-population/

5. ‘Ms Cathy O'Toole MP Member for Herbert, Queensland’, Parliament of Australia: https://www.aph.gov.au/Senators_and_Members/Parliamentarian?MPID=249908

6. 'Trend unemployment rate steady at 5.0%'. ABS. March 21, 2019: https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/lookup/6202.0Media%20Release1Feb%202019

7. 'Labor Market Information Port. Townsville Unemployment Rate, February 2004 - February 2019'. Department of Jobs and Small Business. April 8, 2019: http://lmip.gov.au/default.aspx?LMIP/EmploymentRegion/QLD/Townsville/UnemploymentRateTimeSeries

8. 'Regional youth unemployment, December 2018' Queensland Government Statistician’s Office. January 31, 2019: http://www.qgso.qld.gov.au/products/reports/reg-youth-unemployment/reg-youth-unemployment-201812.pdf

9. 'Youth unemployment statistics: a quick guide'. Parliament of Australia. May 31, 2018: https://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/pubs/rp/rp1718/Quick_Guides/YthUnemployment

10. 'Townsville (C) (LGA) (37010). Population and People'. Australian Bureau of Statistics. November 9, 2018: https://itt.abs.gov.au/itt/r.jsp?RegionSummary&region=37010&dataset=ABS_REGIONAL_LGA2017&geoconcept=LGA_2017&maplayerid=LGA2017&measure=MEASURE&datasetASGS=ABS_REGIONAL_ASGS2016&datasetLGA=ABS_REGIONAL_LGA2017&regionLGA=LGA_2017&regionASGS=ASGS_2016

  • First published April 23, 2019 13:59 AEST