Jobs ads fall for first time in nearly a year

Number of job ads on the internet and in newspapers fell 0.9 percent in December compared with previous month

January 16, 2012



The number of job ads on the internet and in newspapers fell 0.9 percent in December compared with the previous month.


Total job ads were 2.6 percent lower than in December 2010, the first negative annual growth rate since February 2010.


The fall in total job ads was driven by a 1.1 percent fall in internet job advertising in the month. Internet job advertisements were 2.3 percent lower than a year ago. In contrast, newspaper job ads were 3.5 percent higher in December, the second consecutive monthly rise, but remained 9.3 percent lower than a year ago.


The notable rise in newspaper job ads in December was driven largely by an exceptionally strong rise in job advertising in the Northern Territory. Excluding the Northern Territory, newspaper job ads rose 0.8 percent in December, to be 12.3 percent lower than a year ago.


In trend terms, total job ads fell by 0.8 percent m/m in December and are now 3.4 percent lower than a year-earlier. Trend growth in job advertising has now been negative since April 2011.


However, December does show some divergence in trend growth between internet and newspaper job advertising.


While internet job advertising fell by 0.8 percent in trend terms in December, newspaper job advertising rose 0.1 percent in the month, the first monthly rise in this series since February 2010.


ANZ Head of Australian Economics Katie Dean says the second consecutive monthly rise in newspaper job advertising needs to be watched closely, as newspaper job advertising often leads developments in overall job advertising and therefore employment growth.


"However, as the Christmas period shows the highest level of seasonal volatility in job advertising, we, as usual, do treat these seasonally-adjusted December results with some caution. We will need to await the January and possibly February data before we can confirm these emerging developments," she says.


"As usual, we therefore focus on the trend data in today’s release for implications for the labour market. The modest fall of 0.8 percent in the trend measure of total job advertisements in December points to at best modest employment gains for the Australian economy over coming months.


"Indeed, the current trend rate of employment growth is unlikely to be fast enough to absorb the forecast growth in the labour force in the short term.


"As a result, ANZ forecasts the unemployment rate to rise to 5.5 percent by mid-2012. The unemployment rate is then expected to stay at this elevated level for most of 2012, before falling modestly in 2013 as broader economic activity continues to pick up in response to strong mining and infrastructure investment and a likely extended period of relatively low domestic interest rates.


"Nevertheless, the sharp rise in the seasonally-adjusted measure of newspaper job

advertising in December does highlight that while total job advertising may be soft, there are some very notable ‘bright spots’. These, as expected, are concentrated in the resource-rich states and territories."


The 3.5 percent rise in newspaper job ads in December was driven by exceptionally strong double-digit growth in the Northern Territory, as well as double-digit growth in Western Australia and another strong positive rise in Queensland.


Dean points out that while the large number of mining projects are no doubt a strong driver of job advertising in these regions, ongoing flood-reconstruction is also likely supporting job advertising in Queensland.


"In contrast, job advertising continues to weaken in Australia’s two most-populous states, New South Wales and Victoria. This most likely reflects ongoing consolidation in the manufacturing and retail sectors, as well as some pull-back in advertising for professional services, which can be very sensitive to changes in business confidence, including increased concerns related to adverse developments in global financial conditions," she says.


"Job advertising also remains weak in the other ‘non-mining’ states and territories,

contracting in Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory. The fall in job advertising in South Australia in December meanwhile suggests that strong resource-related activity in this region is so far not enough to offset weakness in other parts of this economy."


The ABS publishes December labour force data on Thursday. ANZ expects seasonally-adjusted employment to fall by 2,000 and the unemployment rate to rise to 5.4percent.


Lower-than-usual seasonal hiring, particularly in the retail and hospitality sectors, is expected to more than offset continued strong labour demand in mining and infrastructure-related projects.


ANZ’s forecast for a further modest rise in the unemployment rate, together with continued heightened global risks, should keep domestic inflationary pressures relatively benign for now. This will provide the RBA with further scope to provide another modest easing of monetary policy. ANZ continues to forecast another cut in the RBA cash rate of 25 basis points to 4 percent in February.

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