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25 March 2009 6:21am

The number of applications being placed through SEEK is 40 per cent higher than a year ago, while advertised jobs have fallen by close to the same amount.

According to the SEEK Employment Index, the ratio of new job ads to the number of applications placed fell in February by 8.5 per cent, which is above the average rate of decline in recent months.

New job ads fell by six per cent in the month, to be 38.6 per cent lower than in February 2008, and applications rose by 2.5 per cent, to a level 40 per cent higher than a year earlier.

Professor Peter Sheahan, from Victoria University’s Centre for Strategic Economic Studies, says the different position of each of the states can be summarised by noting the number of months since each had a level of vacancies lower than in February.

For Australia as a whole, it has been 32 months since job vacancies were lower, but in NSW one has to go back 43 months.

Job ads haven’t been this low in Victoria for 34 months, in Queensland for 27 months, and in Tasmania for 25 months. In WA it has been 23 months since job ads were lower, and in South Australia, only 21.

Sheahan also notes that because new job ads represent both growth in jobs (new positions) and “churn” (replacement positions), it is possible to have employment growth while ad numbers fall.

As the number of employed persons looking for other jobs traditionally declines in an economic downturn, “there is little doubt that some of the persisting decline in new job ads is due to lower job turnover”.

He says the index’s decline over the past 12 months has been “steady”, and economic conditions are “clearly weak” although not on the scale seen in other countries.


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