Australian jobs ads are going backwards for the first time in years

Clive Rose/Getty Images
  • Australian jobs ads fell heavily in January, according to data released by ANZ Bank.
  • Total advertisements are now lower than a year ago, something that has not been seen since April 2015.
  • ANZ says the decline points to a slowdown in hiring ahead, rather than an outright fell in employment.
  • However, like so many other indicators recently, the decline in advertisements suggests Australian economic growth slowed late last year.
  • The RBA will announce its February interest rate decision on Tuesday. In December, it described the outlook for Australia’s labour market as “positive”.

Australian jobs ads fell heavily in early 2019, pointing to the likelihood that employment growth will slow in the months ahead.

According to ANZ Bank, advertisements fell by 1.7% in January in seasonally adjusted terms, leaving the decline over the past year at 3.7%.

ANZ Bank

It was the first time that advertisements fell in year-ended terms since April 2015, adding to a lengthening list of indicators that suggest Australian economic growth slowed in the final months of 2018.

“The decline in job ads is consistent with a range of other data suggesting the economy lost momentum in the second half of 2018,” said David Plank, Head of Australian Economics at ANZ.

“It is not surprising that this loss of momentum is translating into weaker job ads. This should show up in actual hiring in due course, though employment does lag other parts of the economy.”

While the recent decline in advertisements points to the likelihood a slowdown in employment growth ahead, Plank says that the absolute level of ads is still consistent with modest hiring ahead.

He also cautions that other indicators, such as the ABS Job Vacancy data, are also “painting a more positive picture of the labour market”.

The ANZ job ads series measures changes in advertising levels on jobs websites Seek.com.au and the Department of Employment’s Australian JobSearch site, Jobsearch.gov.au. In contrast, the ABS job vacancies survey interviews employers selected from the ABS business register about openings waiting to be filled.

In the year to November last year, the ABS reported that job vacancies rose to the highest level on record, both in absolute terms and when adjusted for the increase in the size of Australia’s labour market.

ANZ Bank

The RBA has stated previously that the divergence in the two series may reflect that employers and job seekers may now be connecting in alternate forums such as LinkedIn, rather than traditional jobs websites.

The RBA will announce its February monetary policy decision on Tuesday this week.

In December, it described the outlook for Australia’s labour market as “positive”.

“The vacancy rate is high and there are reports of skills shortages in some areas,” it said.

Given it has tended to overlook job ads measures in favour of the ABS vacancy series in the past, it’s likely to retain a positive view in February despite the decline in advertising levels.

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