It looks like Australia's record hiring spree will continue in the months ahead

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  • Australian job ads fell marginally in February, holding on to much of the gains reported a month earlier.
  • Total ads are 13.3% higher than a year ago, suggesting strong hiring levels will persist in the months ahead.
  • ANZ Bank expects a “gradual rate of improvement” in Australian wage growth in the coming quarters.

Australian job advertisements remain at levels not seen since early 2011.

According to ANZ Bank, total advertisements fell by 0.2% to 177,284 in February in seasonally adjusted terms, holding on to much of the 6.2% increase reported one month earlier.

From a year earlier, total ads rose by a healthy 13.3%.

Source: ANZ Bank

“Encouragingly, job ads held on to their gain in January and, as such, a slight fall in February is not cause for concern,” said David Plank, Head of Australian Economics at ANZ.

“Business conditions remain elevated, job security continues to improve and capacity utilisation now sits at the highest rate since 2008.

“This suggests further gains in employment and ongoing inroads into the unemployment rate, at least through the first half of the year.”

While a good sign that the record hiring pace seen in 2017 will continue in the months ahead, Plank says the main issue at present — at least when it comes to the outlook for inflation and interest rate settings — remains weakness in worker wages.

“Even as the labour market continues to punch above its weight, wage growth remains tepid,” Plank says.

“The recent Q4 WPI print provided some encouragement, with a positive surprise on the headline and the detail showing acceleration in wages across 60% of industries.”

However, with labour market conditions likely to remain robust in the period ahead, Plank says the prospects for stronger wage rises is improving.

“On balance we continue to believe that a steady reduction in spare capacity in the labour market will gradually feed into wage growth,” he says.

“Another solid outcome in Q1 will support our view that wage growth is heading in the right direction, albeit with a gradual rate of improvement.”

ANZ’s job ads survey is based on information provided by Seek.com.au and the Department of Employment’s Australian JobSearch site, Jobsearch.gov.au.

“The internet series counts the average number of job ads carried by each of the sites on the same day of each week in the month indicated,” ANZ says.

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