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chefs Jobs - Australia on the increase

 
THE number of people looking for work increased in October, resulting in a softening in labour market conditions in the month, new figures show.

The SEEK employment index, which measures the ratio of new job ads to job applications, fell by 2.8 per cent in October reflecting a rally in the supply of labour.

At a regional level, the most significant falls in the SEEK index were in South Australia (minus 6.9 per cent), the ACT (minus 5.2 per cent) and NSW (minus 4.6 per cent), meaning that employers in these areas were more likely to have experienced an easier time recruiting staff last month.

Jobseeker activity has remained fairly constant since April 2007, but the number of job applications posted rose by 2.5 per cent in October, seasonally adjusted.

The increase in applications was evident in all states, but was particularly strong in South Australia.

"On the face of it, an increase in job application numbers might appear positive, but the type of jobs that are attracting the most applications are positions in the hospitality and tourism areas and call centres," SEEK sales director Joe Powell said.

"Meanwhile, we are witnessing national shortages in sectors including construction, law, defence and healthcare."

Jobs growth was moderate in October, with new jobs advertised increasing just 1.1 per cent but continuing a strong upward trend observed since February.

Western Australia and Queensland continue to stand out, with growth of 4.5 per cent and 2.4 per cent respectively, while NSW posted the next highest gain with 1.1 per cent growth in jobs.

The number of new job ads listed with SEEK has been growing at an annual rate of over 40 per cent per annum, both in the year to October 2007 and over the past four months.

Professor Peter Sheehan, of the Centre for Strategic Economic Studies at Victoria University, said that tight labour market conditions remain, however, and would continue to put upward pressure on interest rates in the coming months.

Prof Sheehan said current labour market conditions indicated a pace of demand growth that was not sustainable given the size and skill profile of Australia's workforce.

"Taken in conjunction with other recent data - such as the underlying rate of CPI (consumer price index) inflation, strong retail sales, credit growth and rising house prices - this means that several adjustments to interest rates are likely to be necessary to slow the economy in the coming months."

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