Australian Job Postings Through July 16: No Impact From Lockdown Yet
In July, Australian hiring activity remained hot despite New South Wales and Victoria in hard lockdown.
We regularly update this report to track the pandemic’s effects on the labour market.
Job postings on Indeed are a real-time measure of labour market activity. On July 16 they were tracking 49.0% ahead of their level on February 1 last year, our pre-pandemic baseline, after adjusting for seasonal trends.
The Australian economy has taken a hit in recent weeks, with both New South Wales and Victoria plunged into hard-lockdown. Victoria has been in-and-out of lockdown since May. However, the hiring impact appears modest thus far.
On July 16, New South Wales and Victorian job postings were tracking 53.5% and 48.4% above their level on February 1 last year, compared with 46.7% for the rest of Australia.
We’d expect the impact of lockdown to become more evident in the coming weeks. While short-term lockdowns appear to have had no impact on hiring, Victoria’s lengthy lockdown in May and early June triggered a decline in job postings. The current New South Wales and Victorian lockdowns are likely to be as long, if not longer, than that earlier episode.
In 2020, job postings plunged from mid-March until late April, falling by half, and then gradually improved over the remainder of the year. Victoria’s lengthy second lockdown slowed the recovery, creating a large and temporary divergence between Victoria and the rest of Australia.
Ongoing lockdowns are likely to continue until Australia’s vaccine rollout is sufficiently high to protect the nation. Prolonged lockdowns may be the only way that Australia can contain the spread of these recent, and more contagious, COVID variants.
Further moderation at state level
Overall, job posting levels are healthy across every state and territory. That said, over the past two weeks we experienced a decline in postings across every state except for Western Australia and Victoria.
Postings are strongest in Western Australia, up 60.1% from its pre-pandemic baseline, ahead of New South Wales (+53.5%) and the ACT (53.2%)
Hiring remains elevated across most occupational groups
Postings across all but a few occupational groups — beauty & wellness, hospitality & tourism and veterinary — are above their pre-pandemic baseline. Quite simply, demand for workers is pretty high for most occupations right now.
Demand has been strongest for workers in cleaning & sanitation, logistic support and loading & stocking occupations. One area that has recently cooled off has been restaurant opportunities, with food preparation postings dropping considerably over the past month.
Postings for most of the ‘worst performing’ occupations are above last year’s baseline. Occupations in areas such as sport and accounting may be lagging behind the overall recovery but demand for workers remains relatively high.
Australia is entering a dangerous phase in its economic recovery. Much of the country is currently in lockdown and in New South Wales and Victoria that could persist for some time. In many ways, it feels like a re-run of last year, with pressure mounting on state and federal governments to provide additional economic support. Hiring activity hasn’t declined yet but the longer this continues the greater the likelihood of job losses and reduced hiring appetite.
All figures in this blog post are the percentage change in seasonally-adjusted job postings since February 1, 2020, using a seven-day trailing average. February 1 last year is our pre-pandemic baseline. We seasonally adjust each series based on historical patterns in 2017, 2018, and 2019. Each series, including the national trend, occupational sectors, and sub-national geographies, is seasonally adjusted separately.
We adopted this new methodology in January 2021 and now use it to report all historical data. Historical numbers have been revised and may differ significantly from originally reported values. The new methodology applies a detrended seasonal adjustment factor to the percentage change in job postings. In contrast, our previous methodology used the 2019 change between February 1 and the reported date as the adjustment factor, which implicitly included both a seasonality component and the underlying trend.
This blog post is based on publicly available information on the Indeed Australia website and any other countries if named in the post. Unless specified otherwise, it is 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.