Job seekers are in luck – record numbers of job postings were recorded in October as bosses prepared for a big Christmas trade.
In a surefire sign the jobs market is recovering quickly from lockdowns in New South Wales and Victoria, Australia’s two largest online job sites – SEEK and Indeed – have started tracking massive increases in ‘Help wanted’ signs.
Retail, hospitality and tourism – the industries hardest hit by the Delta lockdowns – are now investing in major hiring sprees that could force companies across the board to pay higher wages to attract more staff.
SEEK said job ads on its platform soared 10.2 per cent in October, rising to record levels that were 63 per cent higher than last year.
Rival site Indeed, meanwhile, saw a whopping 16 per cent increase in job ads over the same month.
Indeed economist Callam Pickering said job ads are now 85 per cent higher than pre-COVID levels in Victoria and 82 per cent higher in NSW.
“Because the lockdowns affected so many industries, we are seeing a big pickup across the board,” Mr Pickering said.
“Strong demand for workers is a great sign that the jobs market will tighten considerably over the next six months.”
Stronger job ads are also a sign that wages growth will soon start picking up.
The Reserve Bank said as much on Tuesday when it upgraded its forecasts for wages growth, saying businesses are reporting worsening labour shortages.
Things have become so bad in hospitality that the industry association is lobbying for an emergency increase in migrant workers over Christmas.
The industries hiring right now
Such pressures are a remarkable turnaround for the jobs market, which has been through a Delta rollercoaster ride over the past three months.
Hundreds of thousands of jobs were lost in July and September as many workers were left with little choice but to stop looking for work because of extended lockdowns in NSW, Victoria and the ACT.
But with those lockdowns now over and government income support ending, economists predict many people will now start looking for jobs.
If that sounds like you, then the below table from SEEK shows which industries are hiring the most workers heading into Christmas.
Hospitality and tourism businesses are leading the pack now that the international border has reopened before the Christmas holidays.
Education jobs are also returning, with an expected rise in international students in 2022 and many local workers looking to upskill.
And Indeed has also been tracking a large rise in seasonal retail job ads.
Wages growth forecast lifted
The elevated number of job ads is also good news for those who are not in the market for work because it points to higher wages growth.
Economists say wages growth should pick up next year because labour shortages are making each worker much more valuable to bosses.
The Reserve Bank upgraded its forecasts for wages growth on Tuesday to reflect the stronger-than-expected jobs market recovery.
The RBA now expects annual wages growth to hit 3 per cent in 2023 – the threshold governor Philip Lowe has set for achieving higher inflation.
The RBA had previously forecast wages to rise 2.75 per cent in 2023.
Dr Lowe said on Tuesday that wage pressures are now building across the economy, but that this would take a while to translate to higher wages.
“If we can sustain an unemployment rate in the low fours for a while, firms will have to compete more aggressively for labour,” he said.
“They’ll be offering higher wage rates to attract workers and giving their current workers bigger pay rises.”
Restaurant and Catering Association chief executive Wes Lambert said hospitality businesses are already hiking up wages to attract workers.
“We’ve had reports from hospitality businesses advertising positions at $40 an hour that would normally be in the $20s range,” he said.
Hospitality businesses can’t find staff
Mr Lambert said labour shortages in the hospitality industry are now so acute that businesses are having to restrict their trading hours.
“It’s devastating. Many hospitality businesses are telling us they’re only able to be open four to five days a week for one or two meals,” he said.
“They normally open for six to seven days a week for two to three meal periods.”
There were 90,000 hospitality job ads on SEEK in October, an increase of 5000 over the past two weeks alone.
Mr Lambert has contacted Immigration Minister Alex Hawke to request an “emergency” intake of migrant workers to fill 100,000 roles across the industry.
But he doesn’t think this will happen in time for the Christmas holidays.
“The labour shortage is getting even worse,” he said.
“It is now clear that Australians do not want to do these jobs.”