Casual jobs in Australia are in high demand - but that's not a bad thing

Photo: William West/AFP/Getty Images)

Australia’s labour market is generating plenty of promising signs in 2017 with employment growth accelerating sharply, driven largely by an increase in full-time jobs.

And, if Australia’s various job ads series are anything to go by, it looks like that trend will continue into the second half of the year.

They’re all logging large year-on-year increases, pointing to continued strength in hiring levels.

However, while clearly a positive sign, one of the remaining areas of uncertainty is what kind of jobs are in demand. Are the roles being advertised for full-time positions, or are they mainly for part-time and casual workers?

Well, courtesy of careers website Seek, we now have a far clearer view on where the strength in job advertisements is coming from: demand for casual, temp and part-time workers.

This chart shows the breakdown of year-on-year growth in job advertisements placed with the Seek over the past year.

Source: SEEK

While all categories increased, the growth in casual, temp and part-time advertisements far outpaced those for full-time roles over the past year.

“There is an increasing difference in the rate of growth between full-time and non-full-time job advertising on SEEK, with non-full-time jobs growing at a faster rate. This is a trend we’ve witnessed since late 2010,” said Michael Ilczynski, managing director for SEEK Australia and New Zealand.

“During FY17, the most advertised role type on SEEK at a national and state/territory level was full-time. However, full-time advertising increased at a slower rate when compared to other role types.”

So while most jobs placed with Seek over the past year were full-time positions, the growth in other categories was substantially faster.

“At a national level, casual roles were the fastest growing role type with advertising on SEEK up 17% year-on-year, but this advertising growth was off a low base when compared to Full Time roles,” Ilczynski said.

In absolute terms, Seek said that total advertisements placed on its site grew 10.9% year-on-year in June.

The varying growth levels for full-time and non-full-time advertisements fits with the split in hiring seen in Australia over the past five years.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), full-time employment grew by 401,200 in seasonally adjusted terms in the five years to June 2017, representing an increase of 5%.

On the other hand, part-time employment soared by 433,700 over the same period, an increase of 12.8%.

Of those casual roles placed with Seek over the past year, the largest source of demand came from Australia’s hospitality and tourism, trades and services and manufacturing, transport and logistics sectors.

For full-time positions, the highest demand was seen for trades and services, information and communications technology, sales and healthcare and medical workers.

The strength in the latter is not all that surprising given the healthcare sector is the largest employer in the country. It’s also added the most workers of all categories in the ABS’ official jobs data over the past year.

While the Seek figures point to a continued casualisation of Australia’s workforce, something that has been cited as a factor contributing to record-low wage growth over the past 12 months, the pickup in casual, temp and part-time advertisements should not be necessarily deemed to a bad sign on the outlook for labour market conditions and wage growth.

The strong growth in these categories, coupled with continued gains in full-time advertisements, suggests that demand for workers is improving. And should economic conditions continue to strengthen, it’s likely that many of these jobs could become full-time positions as a consequence.

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