Australia job vacancies dip in Nov qtr, labour still in demand

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Job vacancies in Australia fell only slightly in the three months to end-November, suggesting demand for workers remained strong even if the labour market was loosening a little overall.

Vacancies dipped 0.7% from the previous three-month period, when they dived 8.2%, figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) showed on Wednesday.

Openings were down 14.4% on a year earlier at a seasonally adjusted 388,800, which was the lowest level since August 2021 but still 70% higher than just before the pandemic hit.

Vacancies in the private sector eased 0.6%, while the public sector saw a drop of 1.8%.

“The number of unemployed people per job vacancy was 1.5 in November,” noted David Taylor, ABS head of labour statistics. “While this is higher than 1.1, when it was at its pandemic low, it is still well below the 3.1 figure in February 2020.”

The percentage of businesses reporting at least one vacancy slipped to 19.7%, compared to a peak of 27.7% last year.

Strong demand for labour this year has been met by a rush of skilled migrants and foreign students, helping ease what had been a very tight labour market.

That was a major reason the jobless rate ticked up to an 18-month high of 3.9% in November even as employment rose a solid 35,600.

The slight loosening in the market has helped restrain wage growth and lessens pressure for yet another rise in interest rates from the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), which has already lifted rates by 425 basis points to a 12-year top of 4.35%.

(Reporting by Wayne Cole; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)