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Queensland’s job vacancies keep growing as nation shows big falls

Job vacancies have collapsed everywhere except Queensland where 80,000 jobs remain open in the state with the health care sector looking particularly dire.

Sep 28, 2023, updated Sep 28, 2023
Queensland's unemployment level masks the real picture (Image: Probuild).

Queensland's unemployment level masks the real picture (Image: Probuild).

Queensland job vacancies are up 108 per cent vacancies since the start of the pandemic in February 2020. Nationally, they are up only 72 per cent and have fallen by 38,000 since May this year.

Since interest rate hikes began in May 2022, job vacancies nationally are down 18 per cent.

That has increased pressure on wages and AMP Capital economist Shane Oliver warned another rate hike seemed likely because Australia still had not been able to improve its productivity.

“Another sign of increasing wages growth in Australia – with advertised salaries in Seek up 5.1 per cent year-on-year,” Oliver said.

“With productivity weak and this being well above levels consistent with the 2 to 3 per cent inflation target it adds to the risk of another rate hike, unfortunately.”

However, Westpac said if there is a rate rise it would not be at the next meeting of the Reserve Bank board on October 3 and was probably not likely until August next year. ANZ said the weakening economy was sapping households’ appetite to spend.

Even with the falling number of vacancies nationally, industries still are still suffering substantial shortfalls. Healthcare has 68,000 vacancies, professional and technical 42,500, accommodation and services 41,400, administration 33,200, and retail trade 32,000.

“Demand for workers eased again in August for the fifth straight quarter. This coincided with an increase in the unemployment rate over the three months to August,” the ABS said.

“While these indicators are no longer at historical levels, both are still showing that the labour market is tighter than it was before the COVID-19 pandemic.

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“Job vacancies were still around 72 per cent higher than they were in February 2020. That’s still around 160,000 more jobs that employers are looking for people to fill, as part of a pool of almost 400,000 vacancies.”

While Queensland had a gain of 4000 vacancies in August this followed a big fall the previous month so some of the gain may have been a correction.

One of the reasons Westpac can be confident of a continued pause in rate hikes is the dire state of the retail sector, which is not only chronically short of workers but its sales for August were up just 0.2 per cent when economists were expecting a Matilda’s inspired growth spike.

Annual growth in retail is just 1.5 per cent which represents a decline when inflation is taken into account and the growth in population.

 

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