Victoria’s Labour Market Languishes as Other Regions Continue Recovery
Labour market conditions in Victoria deteriorated following the reinstatement of economic lockdowns to curb the spread of COVID-19. However, the impact has varied considerably across sectors.
- Job postings in Victoria are tracking 51% below last year’s trend, compared with a 24% gap for the rest of Australia.
- Job postings in areas such as dental, beauty & wellness and social sciences have collapsed the most relative to hiring activity in the rest of Australia.
- Three sectors, IT operations & help desk, banking & finance and information design, are actually performing better in Victoria, relative to last year’s trend, than in the rest of Australia.
Job postings in Victoria continue to suffer, falling throughout July and August, as widespread community transmission of COVID-19 forced the state government to reinstate economic restrictions. The situation in Victoria stands in stark contrast to the rest of Australia where the job market continues to improve.
In Victoria, job postings were tracking 51% below last year’s trend for the week ended 28 August. That compares unfavourably with the 24% gap for the rest of Australia. Victoria’s fortunes have changed quickly. As recently as early July, Victoria was tracking similarly to the rest of Australia in terms of job postings.
Had Victoria avoided a second-wave of COVID-19 cases, and job postings had grown at the same pace as the rest of Australia, then job postings in Victoria would be 50% higher than their current level.
Victorian shutdown hasn’t hurt every sector
While Victorian job postings are tracking well below the rest of Australia, that isn’t true in every sector. In fact, job postings in a few Victorian sectors are still performing better than their interstate peers.
In three sectors, IT operations & help desk, banking & finance and information design, job postings are tracking better, relative to last year’s trend, in Victoria than in the rest of Australia. These sectors rely primarily on technology, perhaps making them more remote friendly, providing insulation from stage four restrictions.
Of course, for most sectors the opposite is true and labour market conditions are tracking much worse in Victoria than elsewhere.
Take the dental sector for example. In Victoria, job postings for dental roles are tracking 46% below last year’s trend. By comparison, dental postings are tracking 45% above last year’s trend across the rest of Australia, largely reflecting some catch-up following the initial round of economic restrictions.
Or take beauty & wellness, a sector hard-hit by economic restrictions early in the crisis. Beauty & wellness postings are tracking 66% below last year’s trend in Victoria, compared with 15% above last year’s trend across the rest of Australia.
Dental, beauty & wellness, social science, childcare and construction are the five sectors with the largest relative gap between Victoria and the rest of Australia. These sectors, particularly dental, beauty & wellness and childcare, have been greatly hampered by restrictions on economic activity.
Stage four restrictions in Victoria will continue until at least 13 September. This coming weekend the Victorian state government will release a ‘roadmap’ for easing restrictions. Community transmission and daily COVID-19 cases have steadily declined in July and August but economic restrictions on some industries are expected to remain in place for the foreseeable future.
While Victorian hiring activity is likely to improve over the remainder of this year, progress will be slow. A full recovery is largely impossible in the presence of economic restrictions. That much is clear. However, the simple fact that job postings outside Victoria are still well below last year’s trend highlights just how far the recovery has to go and how long it could take.
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.