This is the ugliest indicator on Australia's jobs market we've seen in a while

Cameron Spencer/Getty Images for the Invictus Games Foundation
  • Job advertisements placed on employment platform SEEK fell 8.9% in the year to April.
  • Postings fell in all job categories and everywhere except the ACT.
  • Ads in media, trades, construction, real estate and architecture slumped more than 20% over the year. 15 categories saw falls of more than 10%.
  • The timing of public holidays and the upcoming election may have contributed to the weakness, but it’s not looking good for hiring in the months ahead.

Job advertisements placed on employment platform SEEK are in decline in Australia, pointing to the likelihood that hiring will follow suit in the months ahead.

That also means unemployment may start to rise, a scenario that will most likely see the RBA cut official interest rates.

In the year to April, SEEK reported that job postings slumped 8.9%, driven by declines in all job categories.

Some of the falls were massive, particularly in industries tied to the housing, media and finance sector.

The chart below is not reassuring, especially for those looking at jobs in media, trades, construction, real estate and architecture. Down more than 20% over the year, job postings in those fields are seeing a major slump.

15 categories saw declines of more than 10% over the year, too.

SEEK

If the data is reflective of a broader demand for workers, it isn’t looking good for anyone seeking employment in the second half of the year.

According to SEEK, the only categories that saw postings increase over the year were linked to the government rather than the private sector where most Australians are employed.

“Job ad growth in industries related to public service continues to outperform other sectors,” SEEK said. “This includes education and training, healthcare and medical, and government and defence.

Kendra Banks, Managing Director at SEEK, said those trends are likely to remain in place for some time yet.

“These sectors are on a long run structural uptrend,” she said.

“The uptrend is fuelled by population growth, international student demand and greater industry demand for qualifications. This means these sectors are likely to top the leaderboard during periods of softening economic growth.”

The only state or territory that saw advertisements lift from a year earlier was the ACT at 10.1%.

In the most populous states — New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland — postings slumped 11.3%, 9.3% and 8.6% respectively. The Northern Territory, suffering from the unwind of the mining infrastructure boom, saw advertisements slide by more than 20% over the year.

SEEK

While an unpleasant update on the outlook for hiring, Banks cautioned the timing of Easter and the ANZAC day holiday, along with the upcoming federal election may have amplified the weakness in the April report.

“Due to a range of factors, including easing of the macroeconomic conditions, the rate of job ad growth has cooled since April 2018,” she said.

“This, combined with the perfect storm of public holidays … and the upcoming election, resulted in job ads being notably down year-on-year.”

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