Job ads lift, labour weakness remains

Alex Druce
(Australian Associated Press)

 

Newspaper and internet job ad numbers rebounded sharply in June, ANZ reports, but underlying labour market weakness looks set to continue.

Australian job ads gained 4.6 per cent for the month, according to figures released by the bank on Monday, reversing disruptions caused by the Easter holidays in April and the federal election in May.

June’s ad numbers represented one of the biggest gains in 18 months but ANZ head of Australian economics David Plank said they represented only a partial recovery following a fall of more than 8.0 per cent fall in May.

“The ‘holiday-year effect’ in late April and the timing of the election appear to have been responsible for much of the decline in May, and the rebound in June can be seen as an unwinding of that effect,” he said.

Mr Plank said the overall trend still pointed downward.

“(It) points to slowing employment growth and rising unemployment,” he said.

“If confirmed by the actual employment data, then the RBA will likely react by lowering the cash rate yet again.”

Unemployment remained unchanged at an unsatisfactory 5.2 per cent in May after a surprise uptick the previous month.

The Reserve Bank of Australia last week cut the cash rate to a fresh record low of 1.0 per cent in an attempt to eat into spare labour market capacity.

Lacklustre inflation, an ongoing property market slump, and sluggish consumer spending are also proving roadblocks to economic growth and economists widely expect another 25 basis point rate cut to 0.75 per cent by Christmas.

Meanwhile the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported on Monday about half of the nation’s 1.1 million underemployed part-time workers were, as of February 2019, actively looking for more work.

A similar ratio of underemployed part-time workers had been underemployed for more than a year, with 16.8 per cent prepared to move to another state to secure a suitable job, according to the participation rate report.

The ABS said underemployment has roughly doubled in the past decade from 500,000 people in February 2008.

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