COVID-19: Australian Hiring Activity Showing Further Stabilisation
Australian hiring activity remained subdued following Easter but there are emerging signs of stabilisation.
- Australian job postings are 54% lower than their trend at the same point last year but continued their recent stabilisation over the past week.
- Job postings for nurses and drivers continue to hold up much better than the national average. Meanwhile, few opportunities are available in sectors such as beauty & wellness, childcare, sports and hospitality & tourism.
- 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 1 May, Australian job postings on Indeed AU were tracking 54% 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.
Nevertheless, there are clear signs of stabilisation. New job postings, defined as those on Indeed AU for seven days or less, have increased by around half 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.
Every state has been hard hit by COVID-19 shutdowns. Victoria has experienced the greatest fall in hiring activity, with job postings tracking 60% below their trend at the same point last year. New South Wales had the smallest decline at 47%.
With the exception of Western Australia and Tasmania, there are signs of stabilisation or improvement in hiring activity, with the gap between this year and last year narrowing. This improvement is most apparent in our nation’s capital, as well as in South Australia.
Some sectors are holding up better than others
Hiring activity for nurses has held up better than for any other sector, down 20% relative to last year’s trend. Drivers, who have become increasingly important to the functioning of the Australian economy through connecting businesses with their customers, have dipped 22%. Those two sectors have been the clear standouts throughout the COVID-19 crisis.
Social science roles, industrial engineering and medical technicians 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 scientific research, therapy, production & manufacturing, retail and mechanical engineering are tracking in line with the national average.
Larger than average declines are apparent in beauty & wellness, childcare, sports, hospitality & tourism and human resources. 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 among the hardest hit, down 54% and 64%, 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.
Hiring activity in a number of countries is showing signs of stabilisation or even improvement. Australia is no exception. Compared with a week ago, job postings have increased by 1.4% points relative to trend. New Zealand has increased by 2.2% points. That indicates that the gap between this year and last year has narrowed slightly.
However, job postings are still falling rapidly against trend in other countries. In the United States and the Netherlands, down 2.6% points, compared with a week ago. In the United Kingdom, who now have a larger fall relative to trend than Australia, down a further 1.2% points.
Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, Singapore has been a standout from a hiring perspective. And to be clear, they still have a much smaller decline in postings than other countries, relative to last year’s trend. Yet there are clear signs of deterioration, with job postings falling by a further 4.1% points relative to trend, compared with a week ago.
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.