Fewer jobs and more applicants is creating a ‘hirer’s market’

More Australians are competing for the same vacancies as the heat starts to come out of the jobs market, new data shows.

Figures published by SEEK this week revealed job ads fell 1.8 per cent in August, while the number of applicants per job ad is now more than double the level recorded this time last year.

SEEK senior economist Matt Cowgill said job ads rose 3.2 per cent across the retail industry on a monthly basis, which indicates businesses are ramping up before the Christmas holidays.

But overall it is becoming an increasingly competitive market for job candidates, he said, with it becoming more evident that the economy is getting closer to a so-called “hirer’s market”.

“Roles in all industries are receiving increased interest, with applications per job ad for manufacturing transport and logistics roles growing by 19.8 per cent over the past quarter,” he said.

“When we remove the peaks and troughs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we see historically high volumes of opportunities for workers, matched with proportionately large application levels from candidates.

“We do appear to be moving closer to a hirer’s market, and yet there is still plenty of choice for workers looking to make a move.”

Unemployment stays low

Applications per job rose for the sixth straight month in August, up 6.5 per cent, SEEK said.

But despite that Australia’s labour market still remains incredibly tight, with unemployment sitting at an historically low 3.7 per cent and, according to experts, unlikely to rise much in 2023.

But an eventual hike in unemployment is expected early in 2024 as the jobs market succumbs to economic gravity, with activity slowing in response to higher interest rates from the Reserve Bank.

“The labour market will probably hold in a pretty similar position for much of the rest of this year,” Oxford Australia head of macroeconomic forecasting Sean Langcake told The New Daily last week. 

“You need to work through some of that excess labour demand before you start to see some of the headline measures move.”

Source: SEEK (click to enlarge).

Job platforms like SEEK and Indeed are among the most comprehensive real-time indicators on job market activity available, so an increase in competition for jobs across both platforms in recent months is a sign conditions have already begun to ease slightly.

Where the jobs are

The latest figures from SEEK shows the ongoing decline in job ads is most stark in South Australia, where job ads fell 4.4 per cent; New South Wales was next with a 3.6 per cent fall.

Western Australia saw job ads fall 1.3 per cent, while Queensland posted a 1.2 per cent decline.

Victoria had a 0.2 per cent increase, second only to the Northern Territory’s 0.7 per cent lift.

In Victoria, this was led by an 11.9 per cent jump in demand for retail  and consumer products workers, SEEK reported.

“In the Northern Territory, growth in trades and services (11 per cent) and education and training (16 per cent) contributed to the monthly uplift,” it reported.

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