Labour market still strong

A sharp 9.3 per cent rise in Australian job vacancies during February is further evidence of a strong labour market.

WA faired better than average with a 38 per cent rise in job vacancies in the traditionally volatile series.

WA job vacancies are 50 per cent higher than the corresponding period in 1999 with a national average rise of 36.1 per cent.

The job vacancy rate is now above the peak levels seen in the late 1980s.

Westpac chief economist Nigel Stapledon said the results pointed to an acceleration in jobs growth in the months ahead.

The lift in demand has occurred across both the private and public sectors.

Private sector vacancies were up 8.3 per cent giving an adjusted annual rate of 11 per cent.

“Perhaps feeling the effects of poaching from the private sector, vacancies in the public sector have risen proportionally faster,” Mr Stapledon said.

Public sector vacancies were up 15.5 per cent and 45.6 per cent on a year ago.

“Job vacancies are a forward indicator of employment growth but with a short lag.

“The strong trend rise is consistent with a continued strong trend in employment growth.

“With the jobs vacancy rate above peak levels of previous cycles in the labour market, casual observation would suggest an acceleration in annual jobs growth is a strong possibility in the new term,” he said.

The greatest gains appear to be in manufacturing and retailing with manufacturing up 59 per cent and the latter up 166 per cent on a year ago, Mr Stapledon said.

He said that the rise in retail vacancies probably reflected that there had been no pause in consumer spending.

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