Fewer jobs as data reveals fall in online ads

A pay bump for Australia' lowest paid workers could cause small businesses to close and axe jobs, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry has warned.

A pay bump for Australia' lowest paid workers could cause small businesses to close and axe jobs, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry has warned. Photo: TND

Slowing economic growth is starting to cause fewer job advertisements,  according to the latest data.

The number of job ads on SEEK fell 1.8 per cent month-on-month in September, according to data published on Monday.

Employment opportunities fell across all industries apart from science and technology on a monthly basis, while engineering jobs saw an 8 per cent decline in September job ads.

SEEK senior economist Matt Cowgill said a “real moderation” in job ads growth had continued in September, adding that it’s consistent with economist predictions of a softening labour market over 2023-24.

The Reserve Bank is anticipating unemployment will rise from 3.7 per cent (current) to 4.4 per cent by the end of 2024 as the effects of higher interest rates slow overall economic growth.

“The declines [in job ads] we’re seeing are consistent with the forecasts from the RBA,” Cowgill said.

But crucially, Cowgill also noted that labour demand does not appear to be declining rapidly.

Instead, ads are still up more than 17 per cent on pre-pandemic levels across SEEK.

“There’s still more demand for workers than there was in that pre-COVID period,” he said.

Jobs market moderates

Unemployment has sat near historic lows in the post-COVID period as a series of widespread labour shortages following lockdowns saw employers rush to retain their workers and hire more.

That has put workers in a stronger bargaining position with bosses because their labour is more valuable at times when demand for goods and services is robust and workers are more scarce.

Those conditions have persisted in 2023 with the jobless rate still quite low at just 3.7 per cent.

But SEEK data shows a softening is underway, with a closely watched metric of applicants per job ad suggesting that there are now more available workers competing for the same roles.

Less bargaining power

Applicants per job ad rose 0.7 per cent in monthly terms over September, with jobs in the retail and consumer products space proving the most competitive amid the holiday hiring rush.

Cowgill said there are now more than twice as many applicants per job as there were in early 2022, but added the figure is still slightly below pre-COVID levels.

The softening in job market conditions would be reflected in the balance of bargaining power between workers and bosses, he said.

“[Applications per job ad] is coming back to a much more normal balance,” Cowgill said.

“I do expect that to be reflected in the bargaining between workers and employers.”

The aggregate number of job ads across every industry is much lower than this time last year.

On an annual basis, job ads are down an enormous 38 per cent in the hospitality and tourism sector, while they’re down 33.8 per cent for information and comms technology, SEEK said.

There has also been a sizeable 25.2 per cent decline in job ads for retail and consumer products roles, suggesting that the seasonal hiring window might be smaller this year than last.

Skills ‘shortage’

The federal government figures published last week showed more than one-third of occupations across the nation remain in “shortage” as employers struggle to find workers.

Occupations including chefs, hairdressers, carpenters and accountants are all in shortage, according to the latest skills priority list.

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