Job advertisements in Australia might be growing but salary levels are flat-lining

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The number of jobs being advertised in Australia is growing strongly. The only problem is that there is no shortage of job seekers to fill them, meaning salary levels are flat-lining.

According to the latest Seek Jobs Report released this morning, total advertisements grew by 8.5% in May compared to a year earlier, providing further evidence that labour market conditions are strengthening.

The group said that demand for mining, engineering and trades workers was the strongest over the past year in percentage terms with advertisements growing 90%, 31% and 27% respectively.

By state and territory, Seek said that it was Australia’s smaller jobs markets that continued to outperform the national average with advertisements in South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania and Queensland all logging increases of 20.1%, 16.1%, 15.2% and 12.4% respectively on a year earlier.

Those were substantially higher than the 4.6% and 9.1% increases logged in New South Wales and Victoria over the same period.

Australia’s territories put in a mixed performance, with the Northern Territory registering an increase of 9% while advertisements in the ACT fell 0.5% from the levels reported in May 2016.

The performance from Western Australia, in particular, was impressive, indicating that economic conditions in the state are now improving after a tough few years.

“The big surprise has been the strength of the Western Australian labour market,” said Michael Ilczynski, managing director for Seek Australia and New Zealand. “This continued growth indicates that Western Australia appears to be finding its feet after a prolonged period of weakness.”

According to the group, advertisements for mining, resources and energy sector workers soared by 96% from a year earlier. Clearly higher commodity prices, at least up until recently, has helped to spur renewed demand for labour.

However, while most states and territories have seen advertising levels grow strongly over the past year, it still hasn’t been enough to spur on wage pressures.

Seek said that advertised salary levels actually fell modestly in May, and have flat-lined in recent months.

“Average advertised salaries on SEEK continue to rise in trend terms in Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia, Queensland and Tasmania, while in New South Wales they started to ease after an extensive period of growth,” said Ilczynski.

That indicates that while job market conditions are improving, there’s still an abundance of workers for employers to choose from — yet another sign pointing to an abundance of slack within the Australian labour market at present.

We’ll get further news on that front today with the release of Australia’s official jobs report for May, including the release of quarterly underemployment figures.

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