Fly In Fly Out Workers – what does this mean for our property markets?

How many people work in Queensland but don’t actually live in the state? 

Ditto for the other two big resource areas – Western Australia and Northern Territory?

Well, it is far less than you might think.  In Queensland, it is just 13,000 workers or about 1% of the state’s workforce.  It is also 1% of the workforce in WA or about 6,250 workers.  And it is 6% of NT’s workforce, which equates to around 6,500 workers.

What is more interesting is what type of workers travel some distance for work.  And again, it is not what you might think.

In Queensland, the top five “imported” employment types are health care and social assistance (1,950 workers); professional, scientific and technical services (1,600 workers); agricultural pursuits (1,300 workers); manufacturing (1,000) and retail trade (925 workers).  Nobody working in a Queensland mine or in the construction industry comes from interstate, well at least not according to the latest census.

This, however, isn’t the case in WA and NT.

WA imports about 1,700 construction workers; 750 miners; 625 truckies; 600 manufacturers and 590 rock doctors/tech heads.  In the NT, 8% of their construction workforce is from interstate (650 jobs) and 15% of their mining workforce is too (400 jobs).  But their biggest imported industry is health-related (with 900 workers).  They also attract 475 workers in agriculture, forestry and fishing.  It’s the barra fishing if you ask me.

A few stats:
Now bear with me as I give you a few more statistics for Queensland regions, starting from the far north of the state.

Cairns: imports 3,750 workers or 4% of its workforce.  Top three imports = health 650 workers; professional services (425) and 325 retail workers.  325 mining-related workers leave Cairns for employment.

Townsville: 375 workers leave Townsville for work.  Top three exported industries are mining 650 workers; public service (150) and 100 manufacturers.  200 agricultural workers travel to Townsville for employment.

Mount Isa: imports 700 workers or 7% of its workforce.  Top three imports = 175 mining workers; 100 construction bodies and 50 professionals.

Mackay: imports 6,275 workers or 7% of its workforce.  Top three imports = construction with 1,500 workers; mining (1,375) and 450 professionals.

Moranbah: imports 1,675 workers or 34% of its workforce.  Top three imports = mining with 725 workers; construction (475) and 100 workers in professional services.

Rockhampton: 650 workers leave Rocky for work.  Top two exported industries are mining with 575 workers and 125 in construction.  125 public servants travel to Rockhampton for employment.

Emerald: imports 675 workers or 8% of its workforce.  Top three imports = construction with 125 workers; mining (100) and 75 in manufacturing.

Gladstone: imports 700 workers or 3% of its workforce.  Top three imports = construction with 300 workers; professionals (100) and 75 in transport.

Bundaberg: 475 workers leave Bundy for work.  Top two exported industries are mining with 225 workers and 200 in construction.  125 public servants travel to Bundaberg for employment.

Hervey Bay area: breaks even, but still 150 miners leave the Fraser Coast to work elsewhere and so do 100 construction workers.

Roma: imports 175 workers or 5% of its workforce.  Top three imports = construction with 60 workers; professionals (50) and 25 in health-related industries.

Sunshine Coast: also breaks even, but 600 construction workers leave the sunny coast for work, as do 525 mining workers.  The Sunshine Coast attracts 325 workers in agriculture; 252 health workers and 200 people in retail.  The Noosa strip isn’t a bad place to flog bikinis.

Brisbane:  loses 5,675 workers to other locations, being 1,525 construction workers; 1,000 miners; 525 in wholesale trade; 500 professionals and 450 manufacturers.

Toowoomba:  loses 900 workers, mostly in construction (200 workers); mining (175) and public administration (150).

And we are nearly there!

Gold Coast: and here is a real surprise, as the Gold Coast imports 2,450 jobs, being mostly in health (550 workers); retail (450) and public administration (425).  Things must be pretty bad employment wise immediately south of the Tweed!  The GC also loses 400 construction workers and 325 mining workers.

Phew!  We made it.  Sorry for the barrage of stats, but it was worth covering the bases so to speak.

So what do we know? 

Well, 13,000 Queensland workers work some distance from home.  Given the size of the state, many would fly-in/fly-out.  Assuming such, this means that just 10,000 new dwellings are needed to accommodate this FIFO Queensland market.

Also, the size of the state’s “imported” labour has declined in recent years, with the 2006 Census showing that nearly 16,000 Queensland workers were employed some distance from where they lived.

We hear a hell of a lot about the FIFO market.  Many thousands of words are written on a daily basis about this topic.  In the scheme of things, it is small potatoes.  By our estimates, around 5% of the new homes built across Queensland over the last five years were needed by those working away from home.

Much more emphasis needs to be placed on housing the local workforce.  And sadly, not enough of the new housing stock proposed across regional Queensland does this.  Too much of it is too expensive and poorly designed to cater for the local markets.

But hey, FIFO is controversial; it’s even sexy; it’s Australian; it’s the AC/DC of the housing market.  By these measures it is little wonder it gets headlines. Heck, I even used it as the title!

But it is drowning out many more important conversations.  The rags and too many property-related portals continue to fill their daily babble with stories of pending mega-wealth waiting to be made if you sign quickly and buy into the next big FIFO hotspot.

Enough already!

………….

Listen to me on Kevin Turner’s Real Estate Talk and his real estate show between 8am and 9am most Saturday mornings on 4BC1116.

………….

Michael Matusik is the director of independent property advisory Matusik Property Insights and writes the  Matusik Missive which is free, however, reprinting, republication or distribution of any portion of this material, or inclusion on any website, is strictly prohibited without the written permission of Matusik Property Insights and may incur a charge.

 


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Michael is director of independent property advisory Matusik Property Insights. He is independent, perceptive and to the point; has helped over 550 new residential developments come to fruition and writes his insightful Matusik Missive


'Fly In Fly Out Workers – what does this mean for our property markets?' have 1 comment

  1. Avatar for Property Update

    December 4, 2012 Michael

    I assume you are changing your definition of “imported/imports” considering this para:

    “In Queensland, the top five “imported” employment types are health care and social assistance (1,950 workers); professional, scientific and technical services (1,600 workers); agricultural pursuits (1,300 workers); manufacturing (1,000) and retail trade (925 workers). Nobody working in a Queensland mine or in the construction industry comes from interstate, well at least not according to the latest census.

    … compared to the rest of your Qld stats, e.g:

    Cairns: imports 3,750 workers or 4% of its workforce. Top three imports = health 650 workers; professional services (425) and 325 retail workers. 325 mining-related workers leave Cairns for employment.

    I assume (yes, I’m making an ass of u and me) that in the above example, Cairns is “importing” from elsewhere in Qld … no?

    Now, on another more important point, your statement …

    “Much more emphasis needs to be placed on housing the local workforce. And sadly, not enough of the new housing stock proposed across regional Queensland does this. Too much of it is too expensive and poorly designed to cater for the local markets.”

    … seems to be the “guts” of your article, so therefore, could you please expand on this, particlularly the last sentence. That is, please discuss in detail the “expense” and “design” of good properties in these areas so that (potential and current) investors into these areas are further enlightened and can make a more informed decision.

    Thanks in advance.

    Mick

    Reply


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