Monday, December 07, 2009

Employers are hiring full-time. Could this be the start of something big?

A surprise surge in full-time job advertisements is raising the prospect that the worst of the employment crisis is over.

Ahead of the official job numbers to be released Thursday the index complied by the Olivier recruitment group shows advertisements for full-time positions up 5.9 per cent in November; substantially more than the 4.6 per cent increase in ads for part-time positions.

It's the first time demand for full-time workers has exceeded demand for part-timers since he onset of the financial crisis.

Over the year to October 130,000 Australians lost full-time jobs while 147,100 gained part-time ones.

The Olivier figures suggest the rot may have stopped.

"If employers are willing to hire, they are now at last willing to hire full-time," said Olivier director Robert Olivier. "It means the underemployment that has been concerning us is starting to unwind".

"Job advertisements usually take 3 to 6 months to work through the system and turn into jobs. So that means soon we'll see full-time employment overtaking part-time employment."

The Oliver count shows is also remarkable because it shows job advertisements continuing to climb after two consecutive Reserve Bank interest rate hikes. If backed up by the differently-calculated ANZ job index to be released this morning it will indicate that employers are keen to get hold off staff ahead of an economic recovery whatever happens to interest rates.

NSW and Victoria lead the way with jumps in advertisements of 7.3 and 9.3 per cent, well in excess of the national average.

"The eastern seaboard's catching up," said Mr Olivier. "The mining states started looking for workers first, but now there's a feeling the recovery will last there's a scramble for workers in financial services, and in administrative and clerical jobs - the jobs that were cut back when things turned down."

Economists surveyed by Reuters expect 5000 more workers to have found jobs when the official figures are released Thursday, with an increase in the number of Australians looking for jobs pushing the unemployment rate up from 5.8 per cent to 5.9 per cent.

They now see Australia's unemployment rate peaking at just 6.3 per cent, down from 7 per cnet last month and 8 per cent the month before that.

The November Budget update had unemployment peaking at 6.75 per cent, down from a forecast of 8.5 per cent in the May Budget.

Published in today's SMH and Age

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