Online job ads in Australia keep on falling

People on a rollercoaster
  • Online job ads in Australia have now fallen for seven consecutive months. In the past, falling ads have usually led to an increase in unemployment.
  • Advertisements were flat to lower in all states and territories except for Tasmania and the ACT last month.
  • By occupational group, openings fell across all categories except for professionals and community and personal services. The decline for labourers and machinery drivers and operators was particularly acute.

Online job ads in Australia continue to fall, the latest in a lengthening list of indicators that suggest employment growth may soon follow suit.

According to the Australian Government’s Internet Vacancy Index (IVI), online advertisements fell by 0.9% to 179,500 in October.

The IVI has now fallen for seven consecutive months, seeing growth in openings over the past year slow to just 1.1%.

Earlier this year, vacancies were growing at an annual pace of over 11%.

The IVI is based on a count of online job advertisements newly lodged on SEEK, CareerOne and Australian JobSearch during a particular month.

The government says it does not reflect the total number of job openings in the labour market as it does not include jobs advertised through other online job boards, employer websites, word of mouth, in newspapers, and advertisements in shop windows.

It also does not specify whether vacancies are for full-time, part-time or casual workers.

As seen in the chart below, the IVI has typically led changes in Australia’s unemployment rate. However, that’s not currently the case with unemployment recently falling to a six-year low of 5% despite continued falls in online openings.

Department of Jobs and Small Business

The government said online advertisements were flat to lower in all states and territories except for Tasmania and the ACT last month. Declines of 0.8%, 0.3% and 0.8% were reported in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland, Australia’s most populous states.

Over the year, the change in online openings ranged from a decline of 10.3% in the Northern Territory to an increase as high as 17.7% in Tasmania.

Department of Jobs and Small Business.

By occupational group, advertisements fell across all categories except for professionals and community and personal services last month. The decline for labourers and machinery drivers and operators was particularly acute, falling 1.7% and 2.3% respectively.

Along with ads for sales workers, those categories also saw openings decline over the year, masking modest gains in all other groups.

Department of Jobs and Small Business

So should the decline in online advertisements be a concern?

To RBA Deputy Governor Guy Debelle, the concise answer is not really.

He says the softening in advertisements on traditional jobs websites could reflect that employers and workers are now finding other ways to connect.

“This, in part, reflects changes in the way that businesses recruit and workers search for jobs,” he said in a speech in September.

“For example, the job advertisements data capture the main online recruitment websites, but they are not picking up newer recruitment sites or the use of social media sites, such as LinkedIn, so the usefulness of this series may be declining.

“Large corporations are also maintaining ‘expression of interest’ registers on their own websites, which reduces their need to advertise to fill a vacancy.”

So rather than connecting via traditional jobs websites there’s now a variety of other forums to source jobs or workers, meaning the signals generated from traditional websites may not be as useful as they were in the past.

Time will tell if that truly is the case.

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