06/04/2009 - 10:19

Job ads fall for 11th straight month

06/04/2009 - 10:19

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Job advertisements on the internet and newspapers in Western Australia have slumped 67 per cent since November 2007 as employers across the country cut back their hiring intentions in March, an ANZ survey has found.

Job advertisements on the internet and newspapers in Western Australia have slumped 67 per cent since November 2007 as employers across the country cut back their hiring intentions in March, an ANZ survey has found.

The number of jobs advertised has fallen for the eleventh month in a row to the worst level in four years, with the number of positions advertised dropping 8.5 per cent in March to a seasonally adjusted weekly average of 147,804, after declining by 10.4 per cent in February.

Over the year, the decline was 44.6 per cent and the weakest annual result in the history of the survey.

Economists said the survey released on Monday pointed to a sustained period of weakness in the labour market this year, with unemployment expected to rise over the next 12 months.

ANZ Economics and Markets Research has revised its growth forecast and expects the Australian economy to contract by 1 per cent in 2009.

"As a result of these changes to our growth forecast and consistent with the latest ANZ Job Ads results, we now expect the unemployment rate to exceed eight per cent next year," ANZ head of economics Warren Hogan said.

The report noted that the former mining boom states of Western Australia and Queensland were experiencing a severe contraction in job ads.

"In Queensland, newspaper job ads have declined by 71 per cent from the November 2007 peak while in Western Australia the contraction has been 67 per cent over the same period," Mr Hogan said.

"Australia's two-speed economy is fast disappearing but unfortunately the convergence of state economies appears to be happening via economic weakness."

For the month of March, New South Wales experienced the largest fall of 9.2 per cent, followed by Victoria (8.5 per cent), Queensland (7.5 per cent), Tasmania (6.7 per cent), South Australia (4.9 per cent) and WA (1.1 per cent).

Advertisements in the Northern Territory rose 19.2 per cent higher and the ACT experienced a 1.1 per cent increase.

Australian Bureau of Statistics labour force figures for March due on Thursday are likely to show the unemployment rate rose to a four and a half year high of 5.5 per cent, as the total number of new jobs created fell by 33,000, Mr Hogan said.

The ANZ survey also showed the number of jobs advertised in major newspapers fell 6.6 per cent in March, after a 25.2 per cent drop in February.

The annual decline was 53 per cent, and the second lowest on record.

The number of jobs advertised on the internet fell by 8.6 per cent and by 44 per cent over the year.

Westpac said the trend measure of the job ads survey - which showed a fall of 7.5 per cent in March and a fall of 43.6 per cent over the year - painted a gloomy picture of the labour market.

The trend figure was consistent with annual jobs growth falling by more than one per cent in the second half of 2009.

However, Commsec chief economist James Craig said the March survey overstated the state of the jobs market because some advertisement would be been double or triple counted.

"It is almost impossible to account for the fact that employers advertise on numerous sites," he said.

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