Jobs outlook in Australia positive, but varies strongly on a regional basis

by Ray Clancy on September 21, 2017

in Jobs in Australia

Hiring prospects have improved across Australia for the final quarter of 2017 with the majority of industries looking for employees across almost all states and territories.

The latest jobs outlook report from the Manpower Group suggests that while the outlook is good there are considerable regional variations, some quite stark so those looking for jobs should do their research first.

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The strongest outlook is for the mining and construction sector and the public administration and education sector, which are recording an outlook higher than the national average and strong year on year gains.

However, employers in the finance, insurance and real estate sector, and the manufacturing sector and services sector are all recording year on year declines in hiring expectations, despite their respective outlooks remaining in positive territory. Expectations have declined in the finance sector by 5% and are down 1% for the services sector.

Particularly notable, the report says, is a decline in expectations for the wholesale and retail trade sector as it enters the pre-Christmas shopping period, which is usually regarded as its busiest time of the year. Hiring expectations are down 4% compared to both the prior quarter and the same time last year.

‘Australian employers are signalling they intend to compete vigorously for talent as we head into the fourth quarter. Australia has now sustained seven years of strong hiring expectations,’ said Manpower Group Australia and New Zealand managing director Richard Fischer.

‘However, there are clearly some differences across the country with Mining & Construction continuing to help drive the positive outlook while other sectors are more subdued. It is pleasing that the smaller states continue to report an improved outlook. In particular, the Western Australian economy continues to show signs of recovering from the end of the mining boom,’ he explained.

Regionally, the outlook in Western Australia has improved steadily for six consecutive quarters and is 8% stronger compared with the final quarter of last year. Indeed, the forecast is now stronger than at any point since the third quarter of 2014, and showing signs that employer confidence may be recovering following the end of the mining boom.

Elsewhere, hiring prospects have improved by 4% from the same time last year in South Australia, Queensland and Tasmania. However, employers in Victoria, New South Wales and the ACT have all recorded declining expectations compared to the same time last year, down 4%, 2% and 6% respectively, although all still remain in positive territory.

An even more severe decline is reported in the Northern Territory where hiring expectations are down 17%. The Northern Territory is the only region where employers report negative expectations overall.

Fischer pointed out that overall Australia’s employment outlook was both positive and stable and had avoided much of the volatility experienced in other countries. Furthermore, despite the subdued outlook in the Retail sector the experience of past years made him hopeful that a pick up would occur closer to Christmas.

Looking at the 10 years since the global financial crisis, this month’s outlook report says that Australian employers are yet to recover their post crisis enthusiasm for hiring in contrast to other nations and the post-crisis environment has had a profound effect on job seekers with a growing preference for part time work and flexibility, a trend particularly evident amongst older workers and millennials.

It reveals that employment expectations of Australian businesses have remained in positive territory over the last five years but have not matched that of the United States, which went through a more severe downturn.

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