Cairns Regional Council

economic profile

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Employment by industry (Census)

Health Care and Social Assistance is the largest employer in Cairns, making up 15.3% of total employment.

Census employment data presents the number of persons employed in each industry sector (full-time and part-time) in Cairns regardless of where they live. By comparing the number of jobs in each industry sector to a regional benchmark, you can clearly see local economic strengths and weaknesses. By looking at how the number of jobs in each industry is changing over time, you can track how the structure of the local economy is changing. Go to the Employment locations page to see where employment is taking place across Cairns.

Note: Census employment figures are known to undercount employment by varying amounts depending on the Census year. All Census counts are an undercount of total population, and in addition, some people don’t state their workforce status or industry. Also counts by place of work exclude those with no fixed workplace address. For this reason, it is recommended that for total job numbers, users look at the Employment by industry (Total) modelled estimates which are updated on an annual basis, and based on the ABS Labour Force survey, less prone to undercount. The Census counts by industry are included here for a greater level of industry detail (3-digit ANZSIC).

Data source

Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) – Census 2011 (experimental imputed) & 2016 – by place of work

Please note: The 2016 Census used a new methodology to “impute” a work location to people who didn’t state their workplace address. As a result, 2016 and 2011 place of work data are not normally comparable. To allow comparison between 2011 and 2016, .id has sourced a 2011 dataset from the ABS which was experimentally imputed using the same methodology. To provide this detail, Cairns in 2011 had to be constructed from a best fit of Work Destination Zones (DZNs). While it may not be an exact match to the LGA or region boundary, it is considered close enough to allow some comparison. Users should treat this time series data with caution, however, and not compare directly with 2011 data from any other source.
Current benchmark:
Did you know? By clicking/tapping on a data row in the table you will be able to see sub categories.
Employment (Census) by industry sector
IndustryNumber%. QueenslandNumber%. Queensland2011 - 2016
Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing1,0601.62.8002.7+1,060
Electricity, Gas, Water and Waste Services6200.91.1001.2+620
Wholesale Trade1,6182.42.6003.6+1,618
Retail Trade7,62111.39.90010.7+7,621
Accommodation and Food Services7,13010.67.4007.0+7,130
Transport, Postal and Warehousing4,1796.25.1005.2+4,179
Information Media and Telecommunications5630.81.2001.2+563
Financial and Insurance Services1,0791.62.5002.7+1,079
Rental, Hiring and Real Estate Services1,4492.12.0001.8+1,449
Professional, Scientific and Technical Services3,2614.86.2006.5+3,261
Administrative and Support Services2,6784.03.5003.2+2,678
Public Administration and Safety5,4178.06.5006.7+5,417
Education and Training6,2499.39.0007.9+6,249
Health Care and Social Assistance10,31115.313.00011.9+10,311
Arts and Recreation Services1,3272.01.6001.4+1,327
Other Services2,9364.43.9003.9+2,936
Industry not classified2,5863.84.3002.4+2,586
Total persons67,451100.0100.00100.0100.0+67,451

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Census of Population and Housing 2011 and 2016. Compiled and presented by .id (informed decisions).

Please refer to specific data notes for more information
Did you know? By clicking/tapping on a category in the chart below you will be able to drilldown to the sub categories.
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Dominant groups

An analysis of the jobs held by the local workers in Cairns in 2016 shows the three most popular industry sectors were:

  • Health Care and Social Assistance (10,311 people or 15.3%)
  • Retail Trade (7,621 people or 11.3%)
  • Accommodation and Food Services (7,130 people or 10.6%)

In combination these three fields accounted for 25,062 people in total or 37.2% of the local workers.

In comparison, Queensland employed 13.0% in Health Care and Social Assistance; 9.9% in Retail Trade and 7.4% in Accommodation and Food Services.

The major differences between the jobs held by local workers of Cairns and Queensland were:

  • A larger percentage of local workers employed in the field of Accommodation and Food Services (10.6% compared to 7.4%)
  • A larger percentage of local workers employed in the field of Health Care and Social Assistance (15.3% compared to 13.0%)
  • A smaller percentage of local workers employed in the field of Construction (6.7% compared to 8.9%)
  • A smaller percentage of local workers employed in the field of Manufacturing (3.9% compared to 6.0%)

Emerging groups

The largest changes in the jobs held by local workers between 2011 and 2016 in Cairns were for those employed in:

  • Health Care and Social Assistance (+10,311 local workers)
  • Retail Trade (+7,621 local workers)
  • Accommodation and Food Services (+7,130 local workers)
  • Education and Training (+6,249 local workers)

Cairns Regional Council

economic profile