Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Our jobs outlook is deteriorating, but we're not the US

AUSTRALIA'S employment outlook has deteriorated, with job advertisements collapsing to a 36-month low and businesses reporting weaker employment expectations than at any time during the 1991 recession.

ANZ's seasonally adjusted count of newspaper and internet job advertisements slid a further 6per cent last month. They are down 34 per cent over the year. Advertisements in Victorian newspapers are down 44per cent over the year.

The separate Dun & Bradstreet business expectations survey recorded the weakest hiring plans in its 20-year history. Only 2 per cent of businesses surveyed last month expected to hire more staff in the year ahead and 24 per cent expected to cut staff.

"The labour market is still deteriorating," said UBS economist George Tharenou. "Job advertisements have yet to find a bottom...

"We expect this Thursday's official employment figures to show an increase in the unemployment rate from 4.5per cent to 4.6 per cent and expect more increases after that."

ANZ economist Katie Dean said she expected the unemployment rate to stop climbing when it reached 7 per cent, in part because of the "extraordinary amount of monetary and fiscal stimulus".

"Whether this short-term boost prevents a renewed slowing in growth later in the year depends partly on the extent to which stronger spending supports employment growth," she said.

The ANZ job ad count shows Victoria losing newspaper ads at the rate of 850 a month. Newspaper advertising peaked at a seasonally adjusted 12,200 jobs in September. By last month it had fallen to 8800.