Australia Sees Decline in Job Vacancies for August 2023

The Australian labor market faced a downturn as job vacancies dropped to 390,000 in August 2023, marking a decrease of 38,000 from May, as reported by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Kate Lamb, ABS Head of Labour Statistics, highlighted a 9% reduction in job vacancies between May and August, contributing to an 18% decline from the peak observed in May 2022. The dip in demand for workers aligned with a concurrent increase in the unemployment rate over the three months leading to August.

While indicators have stepped back from historical highs, both job vacancies and unemployment rates continue to depict a labor market tighter than pre-COVID-19 levels. Job vacancies remain 72% higher than in February 2020, with approximately 160,000 positions sought by employers among the nearly 400,000 vacancies.

The proportion of businesses reporting at least one vacancy dropped from 25% in May to 22% in August, though this remains double the February 2020 figure of 11%.

Public and private sector job vacancies both experienced declines over the August quarter, with the public sector down by 6% (-3,000), and the private sector down by 9% (-35,000).

Among the states, the Australian Capital Territory noted the most significant percentage decline in job vacancies (-8%), while Queensland was the only state to show growth (4%).

The Financial and Insurance Services sector faced the most substantial drop in job vacancies (-15%) this quarter, making it the only industry with lower vacancies than in February 2020.

Despite widespread declines, some industries saw growth in August. Retail trade notably rose by 19%, while job vacancies in various sectors remained elevated compared to pre-COVID-19 levels, particularly in customer-facing industries such as Arts and Recreation Services and Accommodation and Food Services.

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Note: All data is seasonally adjusted for Australia and sector level, with pre-pandemic referring to the February 2020 Job Vacancies report.