Australia just got some depressing news on the outlook for the labour market

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While Australia has enjoyed some fairly resilient labour market data of late, based on a report released earlier today, it appears unlikely to last.

According to the latest internet vacancy index (IVI) released by the government’s department of employment, the number of job vacancies fell by 1.0% in trend terms in May.

The index is based on a count of online vacancies newly lodged on SEEK, CareerOne and Australian JobSearch. The IVI is the only source of detailed data on online vacancies, including for around 350 occupations (at all skill levels), as well as for all states/territories and 38 regions, according to the department.

While the index remains 2.2% higher than levels a year ago, the number of new vacancies advertised slumped, falling to the lowest level seen since June 2014.

Mirroring the fall in the headline index job vacancies fell across seven of eight occupational groups in May with the steepest declines recorded across sales workers (-1.2%), machinery operators and drivers (-1.5%) and labourers (-2.1%). The only group to record an increase was technicians and trade workers with vacancies rising 0.4%.

From a year earlier vacancies across community and personal service workers recorded the largest increase (7.8%), while those for labourers witnessed the steepest decline (-6.5%).

The table below provides the full monthly and yearly breakdown for all occupational groups, along with individual states and territories.

From a state and territory basis all bar the ACT recorded a decline in vacancy levels. Victoria recorded the largest increase in vacancies over the year (10.5%) while Western Australia and the Northern Territory, reflective of the slowdown in the mining capital expenditure boom, saw vacancies plummet by 13.5% and 23.8% respectively.

Given these patterns are reflective of anecdotal evidence seen in the broader economy, it is clear this survey should be taken seriously.

With job vacancies beginning to trend lower this lead indicator on employment suggests the recent renaissance in Australia’s labour market data may struggle to last.

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