- Australian job postings fell slightly in August, having stabilised over the past few months.
- The number of Austalians holding multiple jobs have surged throughout the pandemic, reaching a record 6.5% of employment in the June quarter.
- Multiple job holders are most common in industries with high levels of part-time employment, such as arts & recreation, administrative assistance and accommodation & food services.
This month’s labour market update focuses on the ongoing strength in Australian job postings and explores the recent surge in Australians holding two or more jobs.
Australian job postings have stablised in recent months
While there is a great deal of discussion around high inflation and rising interest rates, the demand for workers remained elevated throughout August, suggesting that labour market conditions may tighten further in the near-term.
By the end of August, job postings on Indeed were tracking 125% ahead of their level on February 1, 2020, our pre-pandemic baseline, after adjusting for seasonal trends. Posting levels have stablised in recent months with little movement up or down during that period — postings fell by 0.3% in August but increased by 2.2% over the past three months — a far cry from the much larger movements we saw earlier in the jobs recovery.
Australian postings remain high by international standards, with growth well above the US, UK and Canada. While recruitment has been strong in each of these countries, Australia has consistently outperformed, with our recovery beginning earlier and remaining stronger despite repeated COVID-19 lockdowns.
Postings in New South Wales fell 2.6% in August, while Victoria was down 1.4%. That more than offset gains in every other state, led by South Australia (+9.3%) and Western Australia (+7.9%).
While postings have certainly softened in some key states, the overall number of opportunities available remains elevated across the country, pointing towards a further tightening of labour market conditions.
Demand for workers still growing strongly in some occupations
Over the past three months, job postings have grown strongly in occupations such as social science (+25.2%), civil engineering (+23.3%), beauty & wellness (+23.1%) and architecture (+21.1%).
By comparison, there are a number of occupations where demand for workers has eased recently. Job postings for veterinarians — a small and volatile job posting category — tumbled by 25% in the past three months. Food preparation postings fell 18.2%, with media & communications (-16.5%), human resources (-15.3%) and medical technician (-15.0%) also falling considerably.
It is, however, important to remember that where postings have fallen they are typically doing so from a very high level. For example, cleaning & sanitation postings may have fallen 11.8% over the past three months but they are still four-times higher than they were on February 1, 2020.
Multiple job holders surge on cost-of-living pressures
An emerging trend in Australia’s labour market has been the considerable rise in people holding two or more jobs. In the June quarter, 6.5% of employed people — the highest number on record — held multiple jobs.
In the two decades from 2000 to 2019, multiple job holders typically accounted for between 5% and 6% of total employment. That threshold has now been exceeded in six of the past seven quarters, suggesting that there has been a shift in worker behaviour throughout the pandemic.
There are likely two central reasons for the growth in multiple job holders. First, there are a lot of jobs available and therefore plenty of opportunities to take on more work if you prefer more hours. Consistent with that, Australia’s rate of underemployment has declined considerably throughout the jobs recovery. Second, cost-of-living pressures, relating to high inflation and the pandemic more generally, may have pushed some people to take on an additional job to keep their heads above water.
Australian consumer prices increased 6.1% over the past year, well in excess of the 2.6% rise in wages. It’s clear that cost-of-living pressures will be of concern to many households, particularly lower income ones, which may have prompted some people to take on any additional work they could find.
How many people have been affected? A rough estimate, based on the share of employed people working multiple jobs in the three years prior to the pandemic, is that 100,000 more people are working multiple jobs now than would have been the case had the pandemic never taken place.
Multiple jobs are most common in the arts & recreation industry
Holding multiple jobs is more common in some industries than others. In arts & recreation, 8.9% of workers have two or more jobs, compared to 8.5% in administrative & support services, 8.4% in agriculture and 7.6% in accommodation & food services. Holding multiple jobs is also quite common across healthcare & social assistance and education.
There is also a strong correlation between part-time employment and multiple job holders. It turns out the higher the rate of part-time employment in an industry, the greater the likelihood that workers in that industry are working multiple jobs. That makes sense given that one of the major reasons to take on a secondary role is because you aren’t getting sufficient hours in your primary one.
We’d expect the growth in multiple jobs to persist in the near-term as we continue to grapple with the impact of high inflation. The unfortunate reality is that many lower-income households are doing it tough and will consider additional work to ease those cost pressures. Fortunately there are still a lot of jobs available for anyone looking for a fresh opportunity or an additional income stream.
All posting figures in this blog post are derived from seasonally adjusted job postings. 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 geographics is seasonally adjusted separately. We adopted this methodology in January 2021.
The national and regional analysis is based on the percentage change in job postings on Indeed’s Australia site since February 1, 2020, our pre-pandemic baseline.
The number of job postings on Indeed.com, whether related to paid or unpaid job solicitations, is not indicative of potential revenue or earnings of Indeed, which comprises a significant percentage of the HR Technology segment of its parent company, Recruit Holdings Co., Ltd. Job posting numbers are provided for information purposes only and should not be viewed as an indicator of performance of Indeed or Recruit. Please refer to the Recruit Holdings investor relations website and regulatory filings in Japan for more detailed information on revenue generation by Recruit’s HR Technology segment.
The data on multiple job holders came directly from the Australian Bureau of Statistics via their quarterly labour account report.