Demand for casual workers in Australia is booming

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It comes as no surprise, given a sharp increase in part-time employment and record-low wage growth over the past year, that job advertisements for casual and vacation roles grew rapidly in Australia over the past 12 months.

According to new data from jobs website Seek, these ads soared by 19% over the past year, far outpacing a 5% lift in full-time job advertisements over the same period.

“At a national level this March, job ads on Seek for casual/vacation roles increased 19% year-on-year, while new full-time job ads increased 5%, said Michael Ilczynski, managing director for Seek Australia and New Zealand.

“The combined national increase of new job ads on Seek this March, which also includes part-time and contract/temp roles, was 5.2% year-on-year.”

Ilczynski believes that the decline in full-time work could be partly due to the structural changes in Australia’s labour market that is seeing full-time roles being replaced by causal, contract and part-time employment.

The data fits with actual employment growth reported by the ABS, with the bureau reporting that part-time employment grew by 127,800 in the 12 months to February, masking a drop in full-time employment of 23,200 over the same period.

It also goes someway to explaining why underemployment — largely measuring those who are currently in employment but looking to work more hours — currently sits at the highest level on record, especially among younger workers.

There’s plenty of casual and part-time roles being advertised but many workers would prefer to work more hours, indicating that there’s still a large degree of underutilisation in the labour market.

This, in turn, is contributing to record-low wage growth at present.

Seek said that its Employment Index fell 5.1% in March, pointing to less favourable conditions for job seekers with more applications being received for each role advertised on its site.

Again, a sign of labour market slack.

As seen in this table supplied by Seek, the increase in casual job advertisements was seen across all states and territories over the past 12 months.


“Seek’s data shows, South Australia enjoyed the largest advertising growth of casual/vacation roles, followed by Western Australia and Victoria,” Ilczynski said.

“Across South Australia and Western Australia, Trades and Service had the most casual job opportunities on Seek in March. While in Victoria, Manufacturing, Transport and Logistics recorded the highest volumes of causal job ads on Seek.”

From a national perspective, Seek said that the strongest growth in casual job advertisements was for hospitality and tourism, trades and services and, manufacturing transport and logistics, with year-on-year increases of 38%, 31 and 10% respectively.

In March, Seek said that total advertisements on its site fell by 1%, leaving the increase on a year earlier at 5.2%.

The decline, bucking the recent trend, was probably due to weather-related disruptions in Queensland as a result of Cyclone Debbie, said Ilczynski.

“The 1% decline in new job advertising in March comes off the back of an improving trend in job advertising in recent months, and is primarily driven by the effects of Cyclone Debbie and the timing of Easter,” he said.

“In Queensland, job ads were down 2.1% in March, with the majority of that dip attributed to Cyclone Debbie.”

From a year earlier, total job advertisements on Seek increased by more than 10% in South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory, and by more than 23% in Tasmania.

Interestingly, those states and territories along Australia’s eastern seaboard underperformed significantly, particularly in New South Wales.

Advertisements in Australia’s most populous state rose by just 0.2%, fitting with flat employment growth reported by the ABS in its monthly jobs report.

Elsewhere, ads rose by 6% in Queensland, 7.7% in the ACT and 8.9% in Victoria.

Victoria has seen the largest lift in employment growth over the past year, thanks partially to booming population growth.

NOW READ: Your 10-second guide to today’s Australian jobs report

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