Some Australian states have more jobs going than they did before the pandemic. Here's where is hiring.

Early signs show some Australian states are getting back to business. (Matthew Horwood, Getty Images)
  • Queensland has joined South Australia, Tasmania, Western Australia and the Northern Territory in having more advertised positions now than before the pandemic.
  • New South Wales, ACT and Victoria are still behind however, in part due to their reliance on a professional sector recovery that has yet to appear.
  • Advertised construction, public service and industrial jobs meanwhile are well above typical levels, as job competition dies down.
  • Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.

As Australian returns to single-digit COVID cases, the job market looks to be approaching something like normalcy.

Jobs rebounded strongly in October to recover 90% of their pre-pandemic levels nationwide while a handful of states have actually surpassed the benchmark.

The latest SEEK data shows that over the last three weeks, Queensland showed more jobs advertisements than before the pandemic struck. The Sunshine State joins South Australia, Tasmania, Western Australia and the Northern Territory in elite company.

“This is the highest national job ad figure since COVID began having an impact in March,” managing director Kendra Banks said.

The country has benefited from record stimulus measures designed specifically to generate job growth as Australia combats its first recession in three decades. As states continue reopening, the effects are clear.

“We have often talked about the close correlation between restrictions easing and more jobs advertised, and this is again evident,” Banks said. “The relaxation of restrictions in Victoria from 18 October and the announcement of further restrictions easing now allowing retail and hospitality, in particular, to re-open in the run-up to Christmas has led to strong growth in Victorian job ad volumes.”

Over the last month, Victorian job ads jumped from 56% to 76% of job ads when compared to pre-COVID levels.

“If job ads continue to trend upwards in line with restriction lifting, then we will see Victoria overtake New South Wales,” Banks said.

It’ll be helped by the savings buffer built up by Australia during its hibernation. Separate data from budget tool Pocketbook, owned by Zip, shows individuals have more than doubled their savings during the last six months.

Curiously, Australians also doubled their level of investment as the sharemarket tumbled, suggesting many may have netted themselves a small windfall along the way.

Despite there being 930,000 Australians still out of work, there may still be an enthusiasm to spend it, as spending picked up around July. It will support, and be supported by, strong job growth.

Not that every sector is growing. Professional services, which comprises businesses across accounting, HR, law, and consulting for example, is lagging at just 65% last year’s levels. For comparison, industrial and public services jobs are above normal levels, while construction gigs remain at parity.

“This explains some of why New South Wales, ACT and Victoria are lagging the other states as they had more Professional Services roles pre-COVID, mainly in the metro areas,” Banks said.

That aside, it’s an encouraging barometer of how the labour market is rebounding. Separate data from LinkedIn confirms that the country is currently sitting at parity compared to September last year for example, while job competition is actually dying down.

“After nearly doubling in the middle of 2020, applications per job is going back down to pre-COVID level,” Linkedin director of talent Adam Gregory said. “We are also seeing that job seekers in industries that were badly hit, like recreation and travel, and education, are now much more likely to apply to jobs outside of their current industry.”

It sits in stark contrast with Treasury estimates that have previously put the unemployment rate on a trajectory to hit 8% by Christmas. Having downgraded that from an earlier punt on 10%, it suggests there may be life in the job market yet.

But like the RBA’s proclamation that the recession is over, it comes with some caveats.

The same government stimulus that helped Australians stockpile cash is winding down in the coming months. In fact, when JobKeeper is cut in March it’ll end $86 billion worth of stimulus. Similarly, Deloitte values JobSeeker at $31.3 billion and has warned its disappearance could cost as many as 145,000 full-time jobs.

The economic sails could well fall slack when those fiscal winds die down.

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