September saw a hiring frenzy as the hospitality, tourism and retail sectors ramped up efforts to bring back workers for the summer, according to new jobs data from Seek.
The figures, released ahead of the monthly employment report, suggest public-facing sectors were racing to hire staff ahead of the planned reopening of NSW and Victoria over the coming weeks.
It showed national job ads were up 6% compared to the previous month, and up almost 57% compared to September last year.
Kendra Banks, managing director of Seek ANZ, said the figures showed a rebound to pre-pandemic hiring practices ahead of most Australian states moving toward reopening and living with COVID-19.
“This strong result has been driven by a significant boost in new roles advertised in New South Wales, which is up 20.6% on the previous month,” Banks said, adding that national job ads have bounced back overall.
“Job ads also remain 24.7% higher nationally than in the same month in 2019,” she said.
However, Seek’s figures showed there is currently a lag by prospective employees to take up advertised roles.
Applications per job ad were down by 0.8% compared to the previous month, and down 35% compared with September 2019.
Overall, the findings point to optimism by businesses to ramp up hiring following the NSW and Victorian governments’ planned reopenings.
The NSW state government is reopening on October 11, with Victoria moving forward with a plan to relax restrictions on October 26, when the state reaches its 70% double-dose vaccination rate.
Seek’s data showed the largest jumps in job ads following on from previous months came from sectors that had been hardest hit by the impacts of the most recent extended lockdowns: hospitality, tourism and retail.
Job listings jumped 28.5% for the national hospitality and tourism sector in September, and 20.6% for retail.
Casual workers saw biggest job losses
Separate data suggests sectors now seeing an explosion in hiring are most likely rebuilding workforces that bore the brunt of Australia’s COVID-19 lockdowns in 2021.
A report by the Australia Institute’s Centre for Future Work found casual workers, most often clustered in industries like hospitality and retail, were eight times more likely to have lost work than permanent staff in recent months.
The Centre for Future Work paper found the loss of 175,000 casual jobs from May to August this year represented 72% of all the jobs lost across Australia’s labour market.
Additionally, those working part-time hours (both casual or permanent) suffered 68% of job losses between May and August – a loss of 166,000 jobs.
“In every case, the job losses experienced by workers in these insecure positions were highly disproportionate to their share in overall employment,” the report said.
“As a result, the worst employment impacts of the pandemic were experienced by those already in relatively insecure, lower-income circumstances.”
The report’s findings speak to ongoing questions about how the tapering off of disaster payments in mid-October will impact employment as public-facing businesses face uncertainty around how quickly they will rebound.
Last week, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg announced the federal government would phase out income support two weeks after each state and territory reached the 80% adult vaccination.
The federal government forked out $9 billion in income support for New South Wales, Victoria and ACT residents over the last few months.
The COVID-19 Disaster Payment, which paid up to $750 per week, replaced the JobKeeper and JobSeeker measures that ended in April of this year and mitigated economic damage during tough lockdowns.
The treasurer said the disaster payment was costing $1 billion a week and that “emergency payments, like lockdowns, can’t continue indefinitely”.
He said the government is expecting “businesses will reopen” and “people will get back to work” once restrictions are eased.