Labour shortages easing but still high

Job vacancy pressure is starting to ease - Newsreel
Australia's chronic labour shortage is starting to ease but remains historically high. | Photo: Violeta Stoimenova (iStock)

Australia’s chronic labour shortage of the past few years is easing but job vacancies remain well above historical levels.

Australia Bureau of Statistics detailed labour force figures show job vacancies fell 17.4 percent in the year to March, 2024. They are also well below the labour shortage peak of 2022.

“Despite a 25 percent drop from the peak in job vacancies seen in September 2022, there were still over 60 percent more vacant jobs than we saw before the pandemic,” ABS head of labour statistics Bjorn Jarvis said.

“There is still plenty of demand for workers, which is contributing to growth in employment.”

The ABS said job vacancies fell 4.3 percent in the March quarter, putting the proportion of total jobs that are vacant at 2.3 percent.

This was the lowest vacancy level since March 2021 but still well above the 1.6 percent recorded a year earlier.

Mr Jarvis said, while the growth in the labour market had slowed over the past year, a range of indicators were still showing growth rates around or above the long-term average.

“While the 2.4 percent annual increase in filled jobs was around half of the 4.9 percent we saw a year ago, it was still above the 10-year pre-pandemic average of 1.7 percent,” he said.

While labour demand remained strong, it continued to soften over the March quarter, with the number of job vacancies falling in 12 of the 19 industries.

“However, vacancies remained above their pre-pandemic levels in 17 of 19 industries, with 11 of these industries reporting 50 percent or more vacancies than in March quarter 2020,” the ABS said.

“The proportion of vacant jobs fell in 13 of the 19 industries since the last quarter. The largest falls were in the mining and public administration and safety industries, both dropping 0.4 percentage points to 4.6 percent and 2.2 percent of total jobs.

“The largest rise in the proportion of vacant jobs was in the rental, hiring and real estate industry, growing by 0.3 percentage points to 1.8 percent.”

The full report is on the ABS website.