Employment 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 latest Manpower Employment Outlook Survey.

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 per cent – up from +2 per cent in the last quarter.

This is due to an increase in the proportion of employers planning to increase hiring (18 per cent – up from 14 per cent in Q3) and a fall in the number planning to decrease hiring (9 per cent compared to 14 per cent in Q3).

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

“Two successive quarters of improving employer forecasts are an encouraging sign that the employment market has turned the corner,” said a Manpower spokesperson.

“The employment forecast for Australia has climbed from minus 1 per cent in the second quarter to a level of cautious optimism, the spokesperson said.

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.”

‘Employers in the manufacturing sector project positive hiring’

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 and construction and the wholesale and retail trade industry sectors all project a positive hiring pace in the forthcoming quarter.

Certain industries had a particularly bright outlook, with 23 per cent of mining and construction employers planning to increase hiring (up from 15 per cent in Q3) and 20 per cent of transportation and utilities employers (up from 13 per cent).

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

“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.”

While the Net Employment Outlook is yet to reach the heights seen during the boom, when it peaked at +29 per cent (in Q2, 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, the spokesperson said.

“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.”