The latest jobs data shows businesses are going on a hiring spree – but not every sector is feeling the love

Australian businesses are on a hiring spree.
  • The latest jobs data charts an ‘impressive’ recovery in the Australian job market, with many industries hiring more strongly than they were prior to the pandemic.
  • Job ads are now up 19.8% on where they were last year as sectors like construction, cleaning, agriculture and personal care all hire strongly.
  • Hospitality and tourism remain the worst-hit jobs while the Northern Territory is the only region to have lost ground in recent weeks.
  • Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.

Australia has a long way to go yet to get the country back to full employment but signs of its early recovery are promising.

Exclusive data from job site Indeed shows job vacancies finished February 19.8% higher than the year prior, signalling surging demand for workers continues.

“Thankfully, there appears to be no lasting impact on Victorian recruitment and short-term lockdowns in New South Wales, Western Australia and Victoria have had minimal hiring impact,” economist Callam Pickering told Business Insider Australia.

“In the past two-weeks, job postings have continued to improve across every state and territory, besides the Northern Territory.”

Indeed momentum appears to be in the recovery’s favour, up from around 14% in mid February and around 10% at the end of January.

An ‘uneven recovery’

However, there remain exceptions.

“While Australia’s hiring recovery has been impressive, outpacing other countries, it is also uneven. Some occupation groups are thriving, while a handful continue to suffer,” Pickering said.

Those industries booming include cleaning and sanitation and community and social services, both of which are up more than 60% over the last 12 months.

So too are jobs stocking and loading, presumably as consumer demand strengthens on the back of record stimulus and $200 billion in pandemic savings.

Likewise, there is a significant recovery in the agricultural sector, which is bouncing back from last year’s bushfires, and in sports, as the AFL and rugby league seasons recommence, according to Pickering.

Other boom industries include construction on the back of the HomeBuilder program, as well as the therapy and personal care sectors as Australians look to decompress from the year that was.

Of course, not all are doing so well.

“The impact of COVID-19 remains largest in hospitality and tourism. Job postings for hospitality are still down 40% compared to their baseline. Many restaurants continue to operate below capacity, with temporary lockdowns and restrictions on travel hurting the bottom line,” Pickering said.

In fact, hiring there is languishing to a degree that the industry has become “a clear outlier”.

The next worst industries include electric engineering, pharmacies, and physicians. Others have a more hopeful outlook, with Pickering noting that real estate hiring, currently down about 5%, “will surely improve on the back of rising property prices.”

The big picture looks bright

However, with just eight job types worse off than they were before the pandemic, and with the vast majority in a better position, things are looking good for the recovery.

Zooming out, job site Seek has put together a 12-month snapshot of what Australia’s labour force has gone through. The results are encouraging.

Certainly, as the number of ads has risen, Seek says job hunters have become “more selective” in finding their next gig as the market swings in their favour, particularly in West Australia and Queensland.

“While the number of job seekers viewing ads is equal to the same time in the previous year, the number who go on to apply is 10% lower year-on-year (as at December 2020),” it said.

“Industries with customer-facing roles saw a drop in application volume, in some cases by up to 30% year-on-year.”

The overall picture therefore is looking much improved on even a few months ago. While unemployment sat at 6.4% in January, it is falling and has made considerable improvements on the last recession Australia sidestepped in 2008 and 2009.

“As you can see from the graph, COVID had a swifter and more sudden effect than even the GFC. The good news is that within two months of the initial outbreak here in Australia, we had already reached the lowest number of ads before job ads started to recover,” Seek said.

While the crisis is evidently of a very different nature, the recovery so far has been positive.

The next challenge will be seeing how businesses react to the wind back of JobKeeper, and how the hiring spree survives it.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.