How have lockdowns impacted our job market?
According to National Australia Bank Market research watch, Australian job vacancies have fallen 9.8% during the lockdowns, but remain well above pre-pandemic levels and support expectations for a strong recovery.
Job vacancies fell a seasonally adjusted 9.8% in the three months to August, but importantly remain 46% above pre-pandemic February 2020 levels.
The decline was led by NSW and VIC which were in lockdown, but importantly vacancies actually rose in WA which has been less impacted by lockdowns and suggests strong labour demand remains in non-lockdown areas.
Overall the decline due to the recent lockdowns is relatively mild when compared to the 43.3% drop back in Q2 2020, signifying labour demand remains resilient and supports expectations for a strong recovery once lockdown restrictions ease.
Job vacancies remain 46% above pre-pandemic levels
Lockdowns have interrupted labour market activity…
… and consequently, the decline in vacancies was led by NSW given Greater Sydney has been in lockdown since June 26. In original terms, vacancies in the state fell 15.6% q/q.
In contrast, Victoria, which re-entered lockdown on 5 August, saw vacancies down a smaller 7.1%.
In a sign of continuing labour market strength in areas less impacted by current lockdowns, WA and Queensland both rose further in the quarter, to be 84% and 89% above pre-pandemic levels respectively, though QLD vacancies underperformed their usual seasonal strength for that time of year.
SA and QLD data appear to reflect some impact from short lockdowns just ahead of the reference period for the data.
Job vacancies remain above pre-pandemic levels in all states
Despite falls alongside lockdown impacts in the August data, all industries and states recorded a level of job vacancies higher than prior to the pandemic.
That supports the NAB’s expectation that the current labour market impacts from lockdowns are likely to only delay, rather than derail progress towards maximum sustainable employment.
Reopening thresholds are in sight in NSW, Victoria and the ACT, with NSW expected to reach 70% double dose early next week ahead of the first phase of easing restrictions on Monday 11 October.
By industry, declines in vacancies were largest in areas directly impacted by lockdown restrictions.
Accommodation and food services and Arts and recreation both saw vacancies decline 28%, Rental, hiring and real estate (-26%) and Construction (-22%) also saw very large falls.
Job vacancies remain above pre-pandemic levels in all industries
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