Job vacancies in Australia surge as firms struggle to find staff

Hiring has beaten all forecasts in recent months to drive the jobless rate down to its lowest in almost 50 years at 3.9 per cent. PHOTO: AFP

SYDNEY (REUTERS) - Job vacancies in Australia surged to all-time highs in the May quarter as firms struggled to find staff amid a tightening labour market, another sign interest rates are likely to rise further next week.

Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) out on Thursday (June 30) showed vacancies in the three months to May jumped 13.8 per cent, from the previous quarter, to 480,100.

That was 29.7 per cent higher than the same period last year, and more than double the level in February 2020 before the Covid-19 pandemic hit.

"This reflected increasing demand for workers, particularly in customer facing roles, with businesses continuing to face disruptions to their operations, as well as ongoing labour shortages," said Mr Bjorn Jarvis, head of labour statistics at ABS.

"There was almost the same number of unemployed people and vacant jobs in May, compared with three times as many people before the start of the pandemic," he added.

Hiring has beat all forecasts in recent months to drive the jobless rate down to its lowest in almost 50 years at 3.9 per cent.

That was one reason the Reserve Bank of Australia has raised interest rates twice since May to 0.85 per cent, and is considered likely to hike by another 50 basis points at its July policy meeting next week.

Thursday's data showed that vacancies in the private sector climbed 14.2 per cent in the May quarter, while public sector vacancies grew 9.4 per cent.

The number of vacancies was highest in health and social assistance, followed by accommodation and food, scientific and professional and the retail sector.

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