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Job Vacancies Hit Record Levels

We saw further evidence yesterday that the strength of the jobs market is not a flash in the pan, as some sceptics seem to think.

The number of job vacancies continues to rise, hitting an all time high in the three months to August, an indication that strong job growth seen in 2017 will continue into 2018.

Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics yesterday showed that employers were seeking to fill 201,300 positions in August on a trend basis, up 3.9% from May, and 14% from August last year.

Economists say the ABS data shows the vast majority of vacancies in the private sector,

Vacancies in the private sector rose 3.8% from May to 181,400, and in the public sector they jumped 4.5% to 19,900.

The total of just over 201,000 was the first time the number of vacancies has been above 200,000.

The number is also up more than 44% from the most recent low of just over 139,000 in the August 2013 quarter.

Commonwealth Bank senior economist Michael Workman said the growing number should see monthly job gains in the range of 18,000 to 22,000 over the next few quarters, and 250,000 jobs added over the next year. “It will add to the already robust jobs growth of 325,000 over the year to August,” he said yesterday.

Growth at that rate should be enough to keep downward pressure on the unemployment rate, given the very gradual downward trend in the participation rate as the population ages.

He expects the unemployment rate to be around 5.4% by the end of this year, from its current level of 5.6%.

The August Labour Force data from the ABS showed that more than 300,000 new full and part time jobs had been created in the past year.

“Full-time employment has now increased by around 253,000 persons since August 2016, and makes up the majority of the 307,000 person increase in employment over the period,” Chief Economist for the ABS, Bruce Hockman, said in the statement.

The year to August saw trend employment rise 2.6%, which the ABS says was well above above the average year-on-year growth over the past 20 years of 1.9%.

The ABS says that rate of employment growth (2.6%) was greater than the growth in the population aged 15 years and over (1.7%), which was reflected in an increase in the employment to population ratio (which is a measure of how employed the population is).

This ratio increased by 0.6 percentage points since August 2016, up to 61.5. This is the highest it has been since February 2013, according to the ABS

The number of job vacancies has grown much faster (14%) in the past year than either the growth in employment and in the 15 years and over population.

Unemployment in trend terms fell slightly to just over 723,000 from July (the lowest since October last year) and was only up 0.5% over the year.

This figure can be expected to start falling slowing in coming months.

View More Articles By Glenn Dyer

Glenn Dyer has been a finance journalist and TV producer for more than 40 years. He has worked at Maxwell Newton Publications, Queensland Newspapers, AAP, The Australian Financial Review, The Nine Network and Crikey.

At the AFR he was a finance writer, Finance Editor, News Editor and Chief of Staff. At the Nine Network he was supervising producer of Business Sunday for more than 16 years. He has also written for other online and analogue print publications here and overseas.



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