Friday, April 02, 2010

Looking for a job - don't look in Victoria, even though it's piling them on


It's where the vacant ones are

Unemployed per vacancy

Western Australia 2.5

South Australia 3.3
NSW 4.3
Queensland 5.0
Victoria 5.1
Tasmania 6.7

ABS 6354.0, 6202.0, February 2010

Victoria has become the toughest place on the mainland in which to find a job, despite creating full-time jobs at a blistering pace of more than 200 per day.

The paradox is revealed in the latest Bureau of Statistics job vacancy survey, reinstated yesterday almost two years after being axed as part of budget cuts.

The survey samples all employers rather than just those who advertise. It finds there were 33,000 vacant jobs in February - 30,000 of them in the private sector. But looking for those jobs were 171,000 Victorians, meaning there was an average of 5.1 potential applicants for each job.

Only in Tasmania are things worse for job seekers... with 6.7 competing for every vacancy.

On the mainland Victoria shares honours for the toughest market with Queensland which has 5 unemployed for each vacancy. NSW is much better with 4.3 potential applicants for each vacancy and Western Australia is way out in front with only 2.5 unemployed per vacancy.

But as difficult as those ratios make it for Victorians searching for jobs, it's possible to them as a sign of strength.

"Victoria and Queensland look bad in part because people are moving there looking for jobs," says labour market specialist Mark Wooden of the Melbourne Institute. "Traditionally it's been Queensland's problem. People move there because they like the weather and opportunities. It's had strong employment growth offset by even stronger population growth. That's how it's becoming in Victoria, our vibrant economy is drawing people in."

"You could look at it as a good problem to have. In South Australia by contrast people are leaving, making it easier for those who remain to find jobs."

The Northern and Australian Capital Territories which traditionally draw in workers from other states to fill vacancies are each have vacancies and local unemployment closely matched. The Northern Territory reports 4400 vacancies for 4100 unemployed; the ACT 5800 vacancies for 9400 unemployed.

"Many people move interstate for jobs, the ratios are not as straightforward as they seem," said Professor Wooden. "If you don't have to sell a house the only cost is the airfare, so we will see people from Melbourne and Sydney flying to Western Australia to get mining jobs, and people from Perth flying to get mining jobs as well."

Only 5000 of Australia's 107,000 job vacancies are in mining with the biggest category being "administrative and support services" with 20,000 vacancies. The distribution suggests many sectors of the economy are picking up and looking to put on more workers.

The latest figures show Australia's unemployment rate remaining steady at 5.3 per cent, its lowest rate in a year and well below the Budget forecast of 8.5 per cent.

In the past six months Victoria has created an extra full-time 36,500 jobs - more than any other state.

Ahead of the next employment update on Thursday the Reserve Bank board will meet Tuesday to consider the timing of its next increase in interest rates. Around half of the 19 forecasters surveyed by Reuters expect an increase of 0.25 points on Tuesday, enough to take the official cash rate to 4.25 per cent and the standard variable mortgage rate above 7 per cent.

Separately released trade figures show exports slipping 1 per cent in February as imports climbed 2 per cent. The Reserve Bank's index of commodity prices climbed a further 3.2 per cent in March.

Published in today's SMH and Age

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