‘This is not a typical year’: Seek says jobs ads shot up by almost 12% in April, but analysts warn supply is not meeting demand

  • Job listings for April shot up almost 12% in April on job board Seek’s Australian site.
  • It marks a second consecutive month of the “highest number of job ads ever posted” said managing director of SEEK Australia and New Zealand Kendra Banks.
  • However lower than expected applications suggest the country’s reduced labour capacity could hinder ongoing growth.
  • Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.

New job ads on Seek increased by 11.9% month on month in April, making for a second consecutive month of record postings.

The figures contribute to growing evidence suggesting fears that the end of the government’s JobKeeper program would reverse Australia’s impressive employment recovery were overblown.

The JobKeeper wage subsidy, introduced during the height of the pandemic, concluded at the end of March.

The reporting also comes following the Morrison government’s jobs focused Federal Budget on Tuesday, where Treasurer Josh Frydenberg trumpeted its success in protecting jobs during the peak of the pandemic in 2020 and promised to return the country to full employment.

“Ahead of any major advanced economy, Australia has seen employment go above its pre-pandemic levels,” Frydenberg said in his address on Tuesday night, touting the country’s 5.6% unemployment rate as “lower than when we came to government.”

In reporting the figures, Seek said that while comparisons to 2020 were not helpful because of the impact of the pandemic on jobs, comparing to April 2019 showed a 30.9% improvement.

Kendra Banks, the managing director of SEEK Australia and New Zealand said the results were unexpectedly positive given the time of year and the ongoing consequences of the pandemic recession.

“For the second consecutive month, we have seen the highest number of job ads ever posted on seek.com.au,” Banks said.

“Traditionally at this time of year we would be talking about a quieter employment market due to the impact of the Easter holidays on recruitment,” she said.

“But to say this is not a typical year is an understatement. “

Additionally, compared to a year ago when the economy was in recession, jobs ads are now a staggering 263.7% higher.

Banks also noted the bounce-back was predominantly occurring outside of large organisations with global workforces.

“The COVID bounce-back continues at pace, particularly in small- and medium-sized businesses,” she said, adding that many of the jobs currently being advertised were for roles that were displaced over the past year.

Preliminary vacancy figures produced earlier this week by the National Skills Commission also showed job ads posted on the internet rose for a 12th consecutive month.

And the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) payroll jobs report showed employment rose 0.4% in the fortnight to April 24, though it said it was still difficult to ascertain whether the end of JobKeeper impacted these figures.

However, Seek also noted demand continued to exceed supply, reporting that applications per ad were currently at their lowest level since 2012.

In February applications per ad were 28.7% lower than in February 2020, dropping a further 13.8% in March.

“The reasons for this include workers continuing to display a more cautious attitude to the job market, and the reduced labour supply impacting the ability to fill roles,” Banks said.

Responding to the Budget on Tuesday, policy think tank CEDA said the government should make a “much bigger investment in quarantine” to respond to skills shortages resulting from Australia’s locked borders.

“With Australia’s slow vaccine rollout and the likelihood of quarantine remaining in place for at least the next two years, the Federal Government must move urgently to expand quarantine capacity,” it said, noting negative net migration would see 150,000 more migrants leave over the next two years.

“We know Australian employers are crying out for skilled migrants – our members have been telling us this for months.

“If we don’t find a way to increase our capacity, we risk losing out on the global talent we need to support growth and investment in fast-growing and recovering sectors.”

The Seek report is a precursor to the full jobs data release for April to be released next week.

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