Job ads record largest monthly decline since 1999


Number of jobs advertised in major metropolitan newspapers and on the internet fall by 10.4 percent in February

The number of jobs advertised in major metropolitan newspapers and on the internet fell by 10.4 percent in February to a weekly average of 161,583 per week, according to the ANZ Job Advertisements Series released today.

This is the largest monthly decline since the combined internet and newspaper series commenced in 1999. The annual rate of decline, at 40 percent, is also the worst outcome on this record.

Job ads in February were 39.8 percent lower than 12 months earlier. In trend terms, the total number of job ads fell by 6.8 percent in February to be 37.5 percent lower than 12 months earlier.

The number of job ads in major metropolitan newspapers decreased by 25.2 percent in February to an average of 8,524 per week. This more than unwound the 12.3 percent increase in January. Newspaper ads are now 55.4 percent lower than in February 2008. In trend terms, the number of newspaper job ads fell by 7.7 percent in February to be 51.1 percent lower than a year ago.

The fall in newspaper job ads was broad-based across the states and territories. The largest declines in percentage terms were in the Northern Territory (-33.8 percent), Western Australia (-29.8 percent), the ACT (-27.4 percent), Queensland (-26.5 percent) and New South Wales (-25.8 percent), followed closely by South Australia (-22.2 percent), Tasmania (-19.5 percent) and Victoria (-18.3 percent).

Similarly, the number of job ads on the internet also fell in February, down by 9.4 percent to average 153,059 per week, and were 38.6 percent lower than 12 months earlier.

In trend terms, internet job ads fell by 6.8 percent in February to be 36.4 percent lower than in February 2008.

ANZ Head of Australian Economics Warren Hogan says the declines suggest new labour demand continues to contract across Australia in the early part of 2009.

"The trends in job advertising in Australia suggest a substantial rise in the unemployment rate is likely. We have revised up our unemployment rate forecasts. We now expect the unemployment rate to reach 6.5 percent by the end of 2009 and 7.5 percent by mid-2010.

"These job advertisement numbers, based on historical relationships, suggests the risks to our forecasts are for higher unemployment.

"Our assessment is that the latest job ad results are consistent with employment contracting at a 2 percent annualised pace over the second half of 2009. This in turn suggests that the current downturn in the economy is likely to last throughout 2009, with little prospect of a meaningful recovery before 2010.

"Recent trends in job advertising are consistent with other indicators which suggest that the Australian economy entered recession in late 2008 and remains in recession in early 2009."

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