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Australia’s Hiring Recovery Continues Despite Victoria’s Lockdown

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Labour market conditions remain weak in Victoria, with little hope of improvement until economic restrictions are lifted. Yet that hasn’t stopped recruitment picking up across the rest of Australia.

Key points: 

  1. Six-months into the COVID-19 crisis, job postings in Victoria are tracking 51% below last year’s trend, following the introduction of economic restrictions in July. By contrast, the gap is 19% for the rest of Australia. 
  2. Victorian job postings in areas such as dental, construction and education have deteriorated considerably compared with other states. 
  3. Yet three occupation groups, electrical engineering, IT operations and information design, are actually performing better in Victoria than across the rest of Australia.

Job postings in Victoria continued to suffer through the first half of September. Due to widespread community transmission of COVID-19, Victoria’s state government reinstated economic restrictions in July. By contrast, the hiring recovery continued across the rest of Australia. 

In Victoria, job postings were tracking 51% below last year’s trend for the week ended 18 September. That compares unfavourably with the 19% gap for the rest of Australia. The gap in hiring activity between Victoria and the rest of Australia has widened throughout Victoria’s second lockdown and likely won’t improve until restrictions are lifted. 

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 around 52% higher than their current level. 

Not every Victorian occupation has suffered

While economic restrictions have greatly reduced Victorian recruitment, not every occupation group has deteriorated. In fact, several are doing as well or better than their interstate peers. 

In three occupation groups, electrical engineering, IT operations & help desk and information design, job postings in Victoria are tracking better, relative to last year’s trend, than the rest of Australia. 

However, for most groups the opposite is true and labour market conditions are tracking much worse in Victoria than elsewhere. 

The largest gap is in dental and construction. In Victoria, job postings for dental roles are tracking 35% below last year’s trend. By contrast, the occupation is tracking 47% above last year’s trend across the rest of Australia, reflecting some catch-up following the initial round of economic restrictions. 

Construction also isn’t faring very well. Victoria’s second lockdown has greatly reduced the scope of construction activity. Victorian recruitment quickly followed, with construction postings down 35% against last year’s trend. Again that compares unfavourably with the rest of Australia. 

Dental, construction, education, loading & stocking and beauty & wellness are the five occupation groups with the largest relative gap between Victoria and the rest of Australia. Each of these five sectors has been hit hard by Victoria’s second shutdown. 

With COVID-19 cases gradually declining, Victoria is inching towards re-opening. Some small concessions will be made towards the end of September, with more extensive re-openings planned for October and November, provided certain health goals are reached. 

That will set the stage for some improvement in Victorian recruitment, yet progress will be slow. As the rest of Australia shows, the path to recovery is a gradual one with hiring activity improving weekly but still well below normal levels. 

Methodology

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.