Survey shows signs of job market recovery

The final quarter of 2009 is set to be the strongest one of the year for employment in Australia, according to the Manpower Employment Outlook Survey released this week.

The final quarter of 2009 is set to be the strongest one of the year for employment in Australia, according to the Manpower Employment Outlook Survey released this week.

The survey of 2,333 employers indicates hiring intentions for the next three months have improved, with the seasonally adjusted Net Employment Outlook at +7%, up from +2% in the last quarter.

According to Lincoln Crawley, Managing Director, Manpower Australia and New Zealand, this is due to an increase in the proportion of employers planning to increase hiring (18%, up from 14% in Q.3) and a fall in the number planning to decrease hiring (9%, compared to 14% in Q.3).

However, hiring intentions remain weaker than a year ago, when the Net Employment Outlook was +16%.

“Two successive quarters of improving employer forecasts are an encouraging sign that the employment market has turned the corner: the employment forecast for Australia has climbed from -1% in the second quarter to a level of cautious optimism.

“It’s also a testament to the resilience of the Australian labour market that we have avoided recording a negative Outlook this quarter; unfortunately, many other countries in the Manpower network have not been so fortunate,” said Crawley.

Certain industries had a particularly bright outlook, with 23% of Mining & Construction employers planning to increase hiring (up from 15% in Q.3) and 20% of Transportation & Utilities employers (up from 13%).

A major change since the last survey was the finding that no industry sector employers reported a negative Net Employment Outlook.

Employers in the Manufacturing, the Mining & Construction and the Wholesale & Retail Trade industry sectors all project a positive hiring pace in the forthcoming quarter.

“One of the defining characteristics of this downturn has been the way in which different industry sectors have felt the pain.

“For example, the Manufacturing sector suffered two consecutive quarters of negative Outlooks, although it has now returned to positive territory.

“Conversely, the Services sector has weathered the storm well, never straying into negative territory, with employers reporting the most optimistic hiring intentions among all of the sectors surveyed for the fourth quarter.

“The message here for jobseekers is that it’s vital to stay flexible, retrain where possible and tap into networks for new opportunities. The economy hasn’t contracted evenly, nor will it grow again in a uniform way, so people need to be adaptable and go where the demand is,” Crawley said.

While the Net Employment Outlook is yet to reach the heights seen during the boom, when it peaked at +29% (in Q.2, 2007 and 2008), Manpower believes that the war for talent is gathering pace again.

“We have already seen in our research, and in talking to employers, that skills shortages still exist in some areas of the Australian employment market, including engineers, sales professionals and trades.

“And while the downturn has provided a welcome respite for many organisations who had struggled to find the talent they need, it certainly won’t last forever.

“Smart companies will be working hard, right now, to both attract and retain top performers who will see them through the downturn and beyond,” Crawley said.

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