NEWSFLASH! In September I will join The Conversation as its Business and Economy Editor. I have been honoured to work at The Age for the past ten years, originally alongside the legendry Tim Colebatch, and for the past four years as economics editor in my own right.

At The Conversation, my job will be to make the best thinking from Australia's 40 univerisites accessible to the widest possible audience. That means you. From the new year I will also write a weekly column.

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Wednesday, January 10, 2018

What a job? Move to NSW

It's the easiest to find a job since the mining boom.

The latest count from the Bureau of Statistics shows there were a record 216,000 job vacancies in November and 661,400 Australians out of work, the lowest total since 2012.

The ratio of 3.1 means there were roughly three job seekers for each vacant job, a step up from November 2016 when there were 3.7.

In NSW, the state with the best odds, there were only 2.2 job seekers for each vacant job, one of the lowest ratios ever recorded. A year earlier there were 2.7.

While Victoria has recorded the biggest improvement, the odds remain nowhere near as good as in NSW. There were 3.1 unemployed Victorians trying to get each vacant job in November, down from 4.2 a year earlier.

In Queensland the odds improved from 4.5 per vacant job to 3.9, in South Australia from 6.1 to 5.7, in Western Australia from 4.7 to 4.3 and in Tasmania from 7.9 to 5.7.

In the Northern Territory the odds remained little changed at about two unemployed per vacancy, and in the Australian Capital Territory they slid from 1.6 to just 1.3. But the ACT figures are unrealistic because they are biased downwards by the number of ACT workers living outside of the territory and the number who come from interstate for jobs.

The better odds in every state reflect both a surge in the number of vacancies, from 69,000 to 81,500 in NSW, and from 45,400 to 57,500 in Victoria, and also a drop in the number of Australians identifying as unemployed.

A near-record 383,300 more Australians have found work in the past 12 months, almost all of them full-time.

Construction vacancies have jumped 22 per cent, manufacturing vacancies 46 per cent, retail vacancies 14 per cent, and hospitality vacancies 16 per cent.

Vacancies in Australia's biggest industry group, health care and social assistance, jumped 18 per cent.

The bureau surveys employment door-to-door. It surveys vacancies by submitting questionnaires to businesses. Its vacancies count is regarded as more reliable than those of other organisations because it includes all vacancies, whether advertised or not.

Over the past year the unemployment rate has fallen from 5.8 to 5.4 per cent. Commonwealth Securities senior economist Ryan Felsman said he expected it to slide further toward 5 per cent in the year ahead.

Business Surveys suggested employment growth of about 20,000 per month, well above the 14,400 needed to merely keep unemployment steady.

In The Age and Sydney Morning Herald