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Job vacancies continue to reach record highs

Job vacancies in Australia continue to reach record highs with the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics figures showing the vacancy rate is 74 per cent higher than at the start of the pandemic.

Job vacancies continue to reach record highs
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  • Keeli Cambourne
  • January 13, 2022
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There were 396,000 job vacancies in November 2021, 169,000 more than before the start of the pandemic, according to new seasonally adjusted figures from the ABS.

Bjorn Jarvis, head of labour statistics at the ABS, said the figures continue to show the high demand for workers from businesses emerging from lockdowns, together with ongoing labour shortages, particularly in lower-paying industries.

“Job vacancies were much higher than at the start of the pandemic in all industries. This was particularly pronounced in Arts and recreation services (271 per cent more than February 2020), Accommodation and food services (211 per cent) and Rental, hiring and real estate services (165 per cent). Even in Administrative and support services, which saw the smallest increase, job vacancies were 28 per cent higher,” Mr Jarvis said.

“Job vacancies were also elevated in all states and territories, ranging between Western Australia, where job vacancies were 120 per cent higher than before the pandemic, and 49 per cent in the Australian Capital Territory.

The high level of job vacancies in November reflected a 19 per cent increase over the quarter, which coincided with the easing of lockdown restrictions in NSW, Victoria and the ACT.

The November increase in job vacancies followed a small fall in August 2021 (10 per cent), around the time of the Delta lockdowns and other restrictions. The decline in August was the first since May 2020, when Australia was in the initial wave of COVID-related restrictions, Mr Jarvis said.

The percentage of businesses reporting at least one vacancy rose from 20 per cent in August 2021 to 21 per cent in November 2021. This was only slightly below May 2021 (22 per cent) and much higher than February 2020 (11 per cent). Many businesses continued to report difficulties in filling their vacancies.

The rise in job vacancies over the quarter was more pronounced in the private sector (19 per cent), compared with the public sector (10 per cent).

The industries with the largest percentage increases in job vacancies over the quarter were arts and recreation services (89 per cent), accommodation and food services (66 per cent), and rental, hiring and real estate services (47 per cent). These were the three customer-facing industries that also experienced the largest falls in vacancies in both May 2020 and August 2021.

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