Online job ad numbers fall again in May

Michael Mehr
(Australian Associated Press)


The number of jobs advertised online dipped 0.7 per cent in May, marking a fifth consecutive month of falls recorded by the federal government’s Internet Vacancy Index.

The numbers, released on Wednesday by the Department of Jobs and Small Business, indicated a drop of 1,300 ads from the previous month and a 5.7 per cent slump in listings in the past year – the weakest annual growth since December 2013.

NSW ads had the biggest fall over the past 12 months, sliding 9.2 per cent, while the figures dropped 8.7 per cent in the Northern Territory and 5.5 per cent in Victoria.

The survey of online job classifieds also recorded a drop of 4.6 per cent in Queensland and a 0.9 per cent dip in Western Australia over the past year.

Job vacancies on an annual basis increased 0.6 per cent in South Australia, 6.3 per cent in the ACT and 14.8 per cent in Tasmania.

Advertisements for labouring jobs declined 1.5 per cent in May compared to the previous month – the sharpest trend decline among the eight occupational groups tracked by the index – while managerial roles were down 1.3 per cent.

Online classifieds numbers in the community and personal service workers category were unchanged and it was the only group that did not register a fall during the month.

Over 12 months, ads in the machinery operators and drivers category slumped 17 per cent across the country, while appeals for labourers fell 14.7 per cent and notices for sales workers sank 11.9 per cent.

But ads for community and personal service workers – many in health-related vocations – rose 4.7 per cent and those seeking professionals increased by 1.5 per cent during the same period.

The report noted that ads for the detailed sub-category of education professionals jumped 5.2 per cent in the month and soared 49.2 per cent compared to May 2018, expanding by 710 notices over the year.

The IVI measure is based on a count of all new job ads posted on three employment websites – Seek, CareerOne and Australian JobSearch – during the month.

The internet job vacancies index fell in trend terms by 1.5 per cent in March and 1.6 per cent in April.

The Department of Jobs and Small Business cautions that its data doesn’t capture all job ads, pointing to research indicating about one fifth of vacancies are not advertised and that employers instead use informal networks – or platforms like LinkedIn – to fill spots.

The latest tally is likely to offer little reassurance for the Reserve Bank of Australia, which has indicated that it is looking for the country’s unemployment rate to fall below 5.0 per cent.

Minutes released on Tuesday from the central bank’s monthly board meeting reiterated that members would be closely watching jobs data as they mull the timing of further cuts to the interest rate.

The RBA this month cut the cash rate from 1.5 per cent to a record low of 1.25 per cent – the rate’s first move in any direction since August 2016 – after another month of weak economic data, most notably an unexpected rise in April’s jobless rate to a seasonally adjusted 5.2 per cent.

The minutes showed that at the time of the meeting the RBA expected unemployment to decline just “a little” over the coming months but official data out last week revealed it remained steady in May.

Commsec economist Ryan Felsman said the new IVI numbers meant the RBA was “likely to pull the interest rate lever again in the next month or two”.


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