Job vacancies in Australia edged higher in the three months to November to notch an all-time peak, hinting that demand for labour remains strong despite a low unemployment rate.
Total job vacancies accelerated by a seasonally adjusted 1.3 per cent to 241,600 in the September-November quarter, up from 238,400 in the previous quarter, data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed on Wednesday.
That’s the highest reading since the series began in 1979.
Callam Pickering, economist for job site Indeed, said the figures showed labour market slack remained too high, and would continue to weigh on wage growth.
“It highlights the ongoing challenge for the Australian economy: Creating enough opportunities to bring unemployment and underutilisation down to an acceptable level,” he said.
Growth in job vacancies was largely driven by NSW, which more than offset the decline in Victoria.
Mr Pickering said he anticipated employment growth in both states will ease in 2019 due to concerns over housing and retail.
“Anecdotally, some firms are reporting a greater difficulty in finding staff,” he said.
“With vacancies continuing to rise, these small pockets of tightness will hopefully become larger, encouraging businesses to offer higher wages and sweeter deals to job seekers.
“Nevertheless, the path towards higher wages will be slow and we don’t anticipate a rapid improvement this year.”
Total job vacancies for November were up 13.9 per cent on a year earlier, though the pace of growth is slower than the same point in 2017.
Private sector job vacancies increased 1.1 per cent, or 2,400, from the June-August quarter, where growth was also 1.1 per cent
Private sector vacancies are up 13.5 per cent on the previous year.
Meanwhile, vacancies in the public sector accelerated 4.0 per cent to 21,600, a 17.6 increase on the same period last year.
Australia’s jobless rate increased from a six-year low to a seasonally adjusted 5.1 per cent in November, despite market expectations the figure would remain unchanged.