Job advertisements fell for the 12th straight month in April to remain at levels consistent with rising unemployment for the year ahead, a survey shows.

The ANZ survey found the total number of job ads in newspapers and on the internet fell 7.5 per cent in April, to an average of 136,770 per week.

Job ads also declined by 49.9 per cent over the year, suggesting total employment in Australia would contract over the year ahead.

ANZ head of Australian economics Warren Hogan said most of the increase in the unemployment rate thus far had been due to labour-force growth and rising participation rates, rather than falling employment.

“However, the ongoing weakness in job ads suggests that falling employment levels will be the key driver of rising unemployment over the year ahead,” Mr Hogan said in a statement on Monday.

The nation’s unemployment rate was 5.7 per cent in March, compared with a 33-year low of 3.9 per cent in February 2008.

The April labour-force figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, due on Thursday, are expected to show the jobless rate rose to 5.9 per cent.

ANZ said its April result was due to a large fall in internet job ads, which slipped 8.1 per cent in the month and were 49.2 per cent lower than a year ago.

Job ads in major metropolitan newspapers were up 3.1 per cent in April, but were 58.9 per cent down from a year earlier.

Mr Hogan said the figures were consistent with the unemployment rate rising above seven per cent in the next 12 to 18 months and “most likely peaking at a rate above eight per cent in this current cycle”.

ANZ’s forecast is for the jobless rate to peak at 8.25 per cent in 2010.

Newspaper ads recorded the largest increases in Tasmania (up 17.7 per cent), the Northern Territory (up 9.3 per cent) and New South Wales (up 6.9 per cent).

South Australia and Queensland had slender rises of less than one per cent.

Western Australia had the largest decline (at 7.1 per cent), while the number of ads was also lower in the ACT (down 0.7 per cent) and Victoria (down 1.4 per cent).


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