Australian job openings hit a record high and are rising rapidly

iStockThere’s 14,800 construction vacancies at present.

Job vacancies in Australia have risen to the highest level on record.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), vacancies rose by 4.6% to 234,200 in trend terms in the three months to May, leaving the increase on a year earlier at a mammoth 21.4%.

The annual increase is the fastest in percentage terms since early 2011.

Private sector vacancies rose by 4.8% over the quarter to 214,000, while public sector vacancies grew by a smaller 2.9% to 20,100 over the same period.

Over the year, private and public sector vacancies grew by 23% and 6.7% respectively.

As seen in the chart below posted on Twitter by Callam Pickering, APAC Economist at jobs specialist Indeed, vacancies sit at the highest level on record in total terms.

Indeed, Twitter

The gap in the chart reflects that the ABS survey was discontinued, then resumed, in 2008 and 2009.

The ratio of unemployed persons to vacancies now stands at the lowest level since early 2011, indicating there are fewer unemployed for every opening there is.

This table from the ABS shows the change in vacancies across the states and territories over the past six surveys. The figures presented are in original terms, meaning they have not been adjusted for seasonal patterns.


“Victoria has accounted for around half of the increase in job vacancies over the past year. New South Wales has accounted for around one-sixth,” says Pickering.

“But it’s particularly pleasing to see such strong growth in the mining states, Queensland and Western Australia, where labour market conditions are finally on the improve.”

This next table shows the change in vacancies by sector in non-adjusted terms. It’s also from the ABS.

It’s worthwhile noting that the ABS says each estimate has a relative standard error of between 25% to 50%, meaning “it should be used with caution”.


While some impressive numbers, the change in vacancies reported by the ABS — both over the quarter and past year — are significantly higher than other measures of openings such as Seek job ads or the governments internet vacancies series.

The ABS measure is a survey of approximately 5,400 employers, selected from the ABS Business Register.

While a strong result on the surface, Pickering says the surge in vacancies is unlikely to herald the start of a meaningful increase in wage growth, at least in the short-to-medium term.

“With vacancies continuing to rise these small pockets of tightness will hopefully become larger, encouraging businesses to offer higher wages and sweeter deals to job seekers,” he says.

“Nevertheless, the path towards higher wages will be slow and we don’t anticipate a rapid improvement this year.”

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