- Australian job search intensity has picked up over the past six months, with jobseekers now more likely to seek opportunities urgently.
- Search intensity has become more broad-based and consistent across the nation in recent months as states catch up with New South Wales.
- Urgency is highest among jobless respondents and those earning $50,000 per year or less.
Job search intensity was up a little in the March quarter compared with the December quarter, according to the latest Indeed Hiring Lab Job Search Survey.
In the March quarter, almost 29% of respondents were actively searching for work, up from 26% in the December quarter. Jobseekers actively searching were doing so with greater urgency. Some 11% of respondents said they were searching urgently, up from 10.3% in the December quarter and 9.1% in the September quarter. The Indeed Hiring Lab Job Search Survey, published quarterly, has polled 3,500 people ages 18-64 each month since July 2021.
The increase in search urgency is important given the ongoing recruitment difficulties many Australian businesses face. In February, 34% of Australian medium-sized businesses reported staff shortages, up from 20% in March last year, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Meanwhile, 29% of large businesses said they were short-staffed, a percentage that’s more than doubled since March last year.
Search urgency is broadly similar nationwide
In the latest quarter, search intensity was broadly similar across New South Wales, Victoria and the rest of Australia, narrowing what had been large gaps among states. Previously, search intensity in New South Wales greatly exceeded that in other states. The convergence reflected rising search intensity outside New South Wales.
The New South Wales and Victoria labour markets faced severe challenges in the second half of last year owing to lengthy pandemic-related economic restrictions. Labour market conditions have normalised in the two states in early 2022, consistent with other states, explaining the greater similarity in job search behaviour across Australia..
Job search a more pressing issue for the unemployed
Naturally, jobseeker urgency has a lot to do with whether someone has a job. Employment provides workers the luxury of being patient, allowing them to take time to find the right position. Unemployed people often have no such leeway.
While jobless respondents to the Indeed survey were more likely to say they were actively searching for work in the March quarter, they stood out even more for their greater search urgency. Jobless respondents were 60% more likely than full-time workers and more than twice as likely as part-time workers to report they were both actively and urgently searching for work.
With Australia’s unemployment rate falling to 4% — lowest since 1974 — the heightened search urgency among jobless respondents may not benefit recruitment as much as it did during the first Indeed survey, which covered the July 2021 quarter.
Search urgency highest among lower income earners
Search intensity is also higher among lower-income earners. In the March quarter, around one-third of respondents earning under $50,000 a year were actively searching for work, compared with 26% of respondents earning $50,000 to $99,999.
Lower-income respondents also considered their searches more pressing. Those earning under $50,000 were almost 80% more likely than respondents in the next income bracket and 53% more likely than those earning above $180,000 to say they were searching urgently for work.
HIgher-income earners tended more than lower-income earners to search passively — that is, searching irregularly or occasionally for a new job. That’s understandable given that greater financial resources may offer the opportunity to be patient on a career move.
Demand for Australian workers remained high throughout the first quarter of this year. Job vacancies and postings were around record levels and Australia’s unemployment rate plunged to levels not seen in almost a half century.
This is a very favourable job market for jobseekers, with plenty of opportunities and a relative shortage of talent. Jobseekers are responding by searching more actively for new positions. Opportunities to get higher pay or more benefits abound across almost every Australian industry and occupation. Nevertheless, this modest rise in job search activity won’t be sufficient to make hiring easier for Australian employers.
This blog post is based on an Indeed online survey conducted in January, February and March of 3,500 Australian adults 18-64. Weights are applied to each Indeed Job Search Survey to match respondent distributions across age, gender and education, based on data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Major changes in national and state survey results, along with household income, were found to be significant at the 5% level. The threshold for statistical significance depends on the question asked and the number of respondents.
For example, between the December and March quarter surveys, a difference of at least 1.2 percentage points was required for the change in the share of the national population actively searching for work to be statistically significant at the 5% level. The actual increase of 2.8% points greatly exceeded that threshold. The threshold for significance was higher when examining state trends due to the smaller number of respondents in each state.