Jobs Look Solid

By Glenn Dyer | More Articles by Glenn Dyer

Being a quiet week this week for data and corporate reports, there's going to be a lot of focus on the jobs figures on Thursday.

Yesterday's ANZ jobs ads series kicked off the focus. It has been around for so long now that it is a fairly good indicator of the level of jobs demand from the employer side.

And even though there was a slight easing in June, compared to May's very sharp rise,the number of jobs being advertised in newspapers and on the internet was still a very solid quarter of a million.

And that's caused the ANZ's economists to speculate that the unemployment rate could fall further in coming months from the 4.2 per cent seen in May.

The ANZ job ads series for June found that the total number of advertised jobs eased by 0.8 per cent to an average of 249,915 a week, compared to May's sharp rise of 10.3 per cent.

This was made up of metropolitan newspaper ads which fell 3.1 per cent in June to 20,150 a week compared to May's 4.5 per cent increase. Newspaper advertisements last month were 0.2 per cent higher than in June 2006.

Internet job ads also eased 0.6 per cent to an average of 229,765 a week.

The ANZ said however that internet job advertisements were still growing faster than they were at the start of the year.

Newspaper ads fell 6.1 per cent in Western Australia which is bad news for the West Australian in Perth and its owner, WAN. It could be a sign of a breather in the resources boom possibly emerging.

The other resources-boom state, Queensland, saw a fall of 3.5 per cent in newspaper ads (bad news for News Ltd's The Courier-Mail).

South Australia had a 0.1 per cent decline but the Northern Territory posted a 10.6 per cent rise.

The ACT had a six per cent increase in ads, Tasmania a 1.5 per cent rise and NSW a small, 0.8 per cent rise.

Despite the overall fall in jobs ads, the ANZ's head of Australian economics Tony Pearson said June was a strong month.

"We had expected some easing following the exceptionally large increase in May, however the fall of 0.8 per cent was inconsequential and showed that demand for labour remains at record highs," he said.

"Employment growth has been robust in 2007 and our job advertisements series suggests it will remain strong in the months ahead."

With the jobless rate at a near 33-year low of 4.2 per cent, Mr Pearson said the unemployment could be reduced further.

"With demand for new workers continuing at a record pace, there is a good chance that the unemployment rate will fall further over coming months," Mr Pearson said.

"We believe we may well see an unemployment rate with a "3" in front of it before the end of the year.

"This would be a pleasing outcome, but it would also mean policy makers will need to remain vigilant for any signs that the tightening labour market is placing upward pressure on wages growth."


Grange Securities' chief economist, Stephen Roberts, said employment growth in June (Market consensus: +13.5k, Grange's forecast: +20k, May was: +39.6k) is likely to have been strong again, another indication that the labour market remains drum-tight.

"Assuming the labour force participation rate was unchanged at the record high 65.0% reported in May, the unemployment rate could have fallen from 4.2% in May to a 33-year low 4.1% (Market forecast: 4.2%) in June.

"Earlier in the week, May housing finance will be released (Market: +0.5%, Grange: +1.5%, April: +2.2%). Unlike the softer patch in home building approvals over recent months, housing finance demand has been growing strongly.

"It would seem that the gap between growing demand for housing and growth in new housing supply is widening which is likely to be a recipe for sharply rising housing prices later in 2007.

"The tightness in the labour market and the housing market add to reasons why the current cash rate pause at 6.25% cannot last much longer," he said.

About 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.

View more articles by Glenn Dyer →