Job Vacancies

Internet job vacancies point to low employment growth – January 2016

The monthly internet job vacancies data is another indicator of future employment growth. This month internet job vacancies continued to grow at a steady pace of +0.4% trend and 0% seasonally adjusted. While there has been a trend of growing vacancies, it does appear to have slowed over the last few months. This does not suggest high, or accelerating, growth in employment over the next few months. But the internet vacancy index has been tracking along like this for a while now – and employment growth continued to outperform.

Source: Dept of Employment 24 Feb 2016 (left hand axis = # of vacancies index)

The Dept of Employment gathers the data on job ads from 3 main job search websites – CareerOne, Seek and Australian Job Search (AJS). It suggests that the index in early 2015 was understating the growth in vacancies:-

“Over the five months to August 2015, there was a reduction in the number of new job advertisements listed on the Australian JobSearch (AJS) website. This may have been as a result of the transition of employment services from Job Services Australia to jobactive. The number of job advertisements listed on AJS began to recover in September; however, the data in this report should be used with caution.” Source: Dept of Employment, 24 Feb 2016

However, the current level of the internet vacancy index (IVI) is lower than the two previous peaks of 2006-08 (45% lower) and 2009-11 (20% lower). Comparing this to employment growth at those same peaks shows that while the periods of employment growth line up with the periods of increase in the IVI, the relative size of the growth during those periods does not correlate at all:-

Source: ABS

For example, the latest peak in annual employment growth exceeded the previous peak in late 2010 by 4% – yet current vacancies are running at 20% below that corresponding peak in late 2010. It’s difficult to reconcile the relative growth of the two data points.

An interesting aspect of the IVI report is the regional internet vacancy index. It provides some insight into the distribution of internet job vacancies and it seems directionally in line with the state-based analysis of employment growth in my previous post – Is the performance of the labour market really that good?

Change in internet vacancies over the year to January 2016

Source: Dept of Employment

According to the report, the largest % increases in vacancies over the year were recorded in:

“Southern Highlands & Snowy NSW (up by 34.4%), Canberra & ACT (26.1%), Bendigo & High Country VIC (23.4%), NSW North Coast (21.8%), and Ballarat & Central Highlands (21.6%)”

The largest % falls in vacancies over the year were recorded in:

“Bathurst & Central West NSW (down by 44.8%, albeit from a low base), Port Augusta & Eyre Peninsula SA (18.6%), Perth (15.9%), North West Tasmania (13.7%) and Central Queensland (12.8%)”

VIC is the only state where all regions saw an in increase in the IVI over the last year – yet employment growth had been subdued in the last year compared to previous peaks. NSW and QLD were mostly all positive. ACT was positive. But in most regions in WA the growth in the IVI was negative. In all regions in SA, TAS and NT the IVI was negative for the year.