Australian employers continue to report positive hiring intentions heading into the new financial year, but the national Net Employment Outlook (NEO) continues to hide significant differences across key sectors. Upbeat hiring intentions in the Services and Public Administration & Education sectors – two industries currently showing signs that wages are growing – have been offset by softer employment Outlooks in the Wholesale & Retail Trade, Finance, Insurance & Real Estate, and Mining & Construction sectors.
These are the results from the ManpowerGroup Employment Outlook Survey for the third quarter of 2018, which records a national Net Employment Outlook of +10% for Australia, signalling that more employers expect to increase staffing levels than not in the three months to 30 September. The survey collects data from over 59,000 employers in 43 countries, including 1,500 in Australia.
The strong national result remains relatively stable when compared to the previous quarter and this same time last year. An increase in staffing levels is anticipated across all seven industry sectors and seven of eight regions during Q3 2018.
These survey results follow the release of data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), revealing a patchy performance for wages growth. The ABS data highlights that while wages growth remains weak across the economy, a number of industry sectors including public administration, education and healthcare – the same sectors reporting the strongest hiring intentions in this latest ManpowerGroup Employment Outlook Survey – recorded relatively strong growth in wages.
The Services sector, which includes Healthcare, reported the strongest hiring intentions for the third quarter of 2018 with an NEO of +13%, followed by Public Administration & Education with an Outlook of +12%. The weakest employment Outlook was reported by the Wholesale & Retail Trade sector with an NEO of +5%, a decrease of seven percentage points quarter-over-quarter and a dip of two percentage points year-over-year. A slight decline was reported in the Finance, Insurance & Real Estate sector, down three percentage points when compared to Q2 2018. The Mining & Construction sector, though relatively stable quarter-on-quarter, also reported a decrease of two percentage points when compared to the third quarter of 2017. However, despite these declines the employment Outlook remains in positive territory across all sectors.
Regionally, New South Wales reported the strongest employment Outlook of +15%, followed by Victoria at +12% and Queensland at +9%. The smaller states of Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania reported both quarter-on-quarter and year-on-year declines but remain in positive territory. The most notable decrease can be seen in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), down 10 percentage points when compared to Q3 2017. The Northern Territory continues to report the weakest hiring intentions of all states and territories with a struggling Net Employment Outlook of -1%.
The positive national Outlook continues to be powered by the nation’s largest organisations, reporting a Net Employment Outlook of +22%, a five percentage-point increase year-on-year. This solid result is double that of medium-sized organisations (+11%) and three times greater than small organisations (+7%).
ManpowerGroup Australia & New Zealand managing director Richard Fischer believes this latest data illustrates well-established trends in Australia’s labour market, particularly the rebalancing of the economy away from the Mining & Construction sector and the strength of large firms.
“The strength of Australia’s labour market is evident across the economy despite softer Outlooks in some sectors,” said Mr Fischer. “Rather than employment growth being dependent on one sector, such as during the mining boom, we are now seeing a sustained positive outlook across all sectors.
“It is also notable that there is strong demand for labour from Australia’s largest firms – an ongoing trend for over two years now.”
Mr Fischer also noted that although wages growth was patchy across the economy, there are signs of improvement in sectors with the strongest third-quarter outlooks.
“The latest ABS data revealed that while wages growth is weak overall, there is clear evidence of growth in industry sectors with strong and sustained demand for labour, including Services and Public Administration & Education. These are the same sectors reporting strong hiring intentions for the upcoming quarter.”
Across the Asia-Pacific region the strongest Outlooks are reported in Japan (+26%), Taiwan (+24%), Hong Kong (+17%) and India (+17%).