COVID-19: Australian Hiring Activity Showing Early Signs of Stabilisation
Australian hiring activity remained subdued following Easter but there are emerging signs of stabilisation.
- Australian job postings are 55% lower than their trend at the same point last year but are showing early signs of stabilisation.
- Job postings for drivers and nursing continue to hold up much better than the national average. Hiring activity in beauty & wellness, childcare, sports and hospitality & tourism continue to track well below the national average.
- Australia and New Zealand have experienced a sharper fall in job postings relative to other similar countries.
Australia has few timely measures that help to identify the impact of COVID-19 on labour market conditions. Job postings from Indeed is one of the few, with data updated daily and never more than a few days old.
As this crisis unfolds, we will be updating our data on job postings regularly. So feel free to return for the latest snapshot on Australian hiring.
Australia job postings
As at 24 April, Australian job postings on Indeed AU were tracking 55% lower than their trend at the same stage last year. Hiring activity has deviated sharply from trend following the widespread shutdown of economic activity to contain the spread of COVID-19.
However, there are early signs of stabilisation. New job postings, defined as those on Indeed AU for seven days or less, have increased by around a third since their trough on 19 April. If that continues then overall job postings will begin to improve, as new hiring activity more than replaces older job postings that leave the website.
The gap between 2019 and 2020 is also likely to close a little due to Easter falling later last year than this year. Easter is typically the second slowest hiring period of the year, behind Christmas and New Year.
Some sectors are holding up better than others
As the COVID-19 crisis has continued, hiring activity for every sector has declined. Some performed reasonably well early in the crisis, such as nursing and drivers, but job postings have now fallen across the board.
Drivers have become increasingly important to the functioning of the Australian economy, connecting restaurants or shops with customers. Job postings for drivers are tracking 22% below trend. Nursing are tracking similarly, down 23% compared with trend.
Social science roles, industrial engineering and physicians & surgeons are also doing better than the national average. Job postings for these sectors are tracking between 33% and 38% below their trend at the same stage last year.
Sectors such as mathematics, loading & stocking, mechanical engineering, manufacturing and finance are tracking in line with the national average.
Larger than average declines are apparent in beauty & wellness, childcare, sports, hospitality & tourism and food preparation. Many of these sectors have been directly impacted by COVID-19 restrictions, with restaurants and borders closed, sports competitions shutdown and parents pulling their children out of school or childcare.
Decline larger in Australia than most other countries
The slowdown in hiring is evident across a range of countries. Australia and New Zealand are experiencing the most severe declines, down 55% and 67%, respectively, against last year’s trend.
Both countries have done a fantastic job of ‘flattening the curve’, reducing COVID-19 case numbers to low levels. But strong restrictions on economic activity, necessary to contain the virus, has created an environment not necessarily conducive to new hiring.
Nevertheless, Australian job postings appear closer to stabilisation than other economies. Compared with a week ago, job postings have declined just 0.8% points relative to trend, lower than in other countries analysed. That indicates that the downward trend is flattening out.
Job postings are still falling rapidly against trends in other countries. In the United Kingdom, down 4.5% points, compared with a week ago. In Germany and Belgium, down 4.7% points and 6.3% points, respectively. Canada appears to be the most similar to Australia, down just 1.1% points over the past week.
Singapore continues to be a standout from a hiring perspective. Job postings are down just 17% compared with their trend at the same point last year, with that changing just 1.3% points over the past week.
To measure the trends in job postings, we calculated the 7-day moving average of the number of AU job postings on Indeed. We index each day’s 7-day moving average to 1 Feb for that year (1 Feb, 2020 = 100 for 2020 data, and so on), or another date if specified on the chart.
We report how the trend in job postings this year differs from last year, in order to focus on the recent changes in labour market conditions due to COVID-19. For example: if job postings for a country increased 5% from 1 February, 2019, to 28 March, 2019, but fell 25% from 1 February, 2020, to 28 March, 2020, then the index would have risen from 100 to 105 in 2019 and fallen 100 to 75 in 2020. The year-to-date trend in job postings would therefore be down 29% on 28 March (75 is 29% below 105) in 2020 relative to 2019.
Information based on publicly available information on the Indeed AU website, limited to Australia, is not a projection of future events, and includes both paid and unpaid job solicitations.
Callam Pickering is an Economist at the Indeed Hiring Lab with a focus on Australia. Previously he was an economist at the Reserve Bank of Australia focusing on household spending and house prices. He also worked as the economic editor at online publications the Business Spectator and Eureka Report where he covered economic issues relating to Australia. Callam earned a Bachelor of economics and Accounting from Monash University.