Jobs ads in decline as restrictions hurt

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Colin Brinsden, AAP Economics and Business Correspondent
(Australian Associated Press)

 

Demand for workers is rapidly coming off the boil in the wake of coronavirus lockdowns in the nation’s major states and capital.

Preliminary figures from the National Skills Commission showed job advertisements posted on the internet fell by a further 5.6 per cent in August, for the third consecutive monthly decline.

Jobs ads had reached a 12-year high in May.

The commission said the sharpest declines in job ads in August month were recorded in jurisdictions currently in lockdown.

Ads fell by 9.2 per cent in NSW, by nine per cent in the ACT and by 5.9 per cent in Victoria.

Job advertisements are a pointer to future employment growth.

Reserve Bank of Australia governor Philip Lowe warned on Tuesday the Delta variant outbreak and associated restrictions will have a material impact on the economy in the September quarter.

This will also see the unemployment rate move higher in the coming months, after hitting a 13-year low of 4.6 per cent in July.

Economists expect the economy could contract by as much as four per cent in the September quarter.

But Dr Lowe anticipates the recovery will resume in December quarter, saying the setback from Delta is expected to be only temporary .

“The Delta outbreak is expected to delay, but not derail, the recovery,” he said.

Given the deteriorating outlook, it came as no surprise the RBA kept the key cash interest rate at a record low of 0.1 per cent at Tuesday’s board meeting – a level it expects to hold until 2024.

The central bank will also maintain its bond buying program – which aims to keep market interest rates and borrowing costs low – until at least February 2022, albeit at a lower rate of purchases of $4 billion per week.

Still, it is not all doom and gloom.

Venture capital-backed businesses appear to be gearing up for a sustained economic recovery, with job vacancies among such entities more than doubling in the first six months of 2021.

An Australian Investment Council survey found of the 3952 jobs on offer, almost half were in the financial technology sector.

Demand was also seen in health and medical services and the electric vehicles industry, including providing technology for EV charging stations.

“The significant growth of job vacancies at the end of June demonstrates the strong capacity of fast-growth businesses to create new industries and employment opportunities,” AIC chief executive Yasser El-Ansary said.

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