Australian job ads dip in August: Survey

But an increase in mining, construction expected to limit a rise in unemployment
By Wayne Cole
||Last Updated: 09/06/2011

SYDNEY (Reuters) — Australian job advertisements in newspapers and on the Internet fell slightly for a second straight month in August, though they remained higher than in the same period last year, according to a recent survey. 

The report by Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) showed total job advertisements dipped 0.6 per cent in August, from July when they eased 0.7 per cent in seasonally adjusted terms. Ads averaged 186,331 in August, up 6.1 per cent in the same month last year.

The number of job advertisements in major metropolitan newspapers fell by three per cent in August, to be 15.6 per cent lower than one year ago.

Ads on the Internet eased 0.5 per cent in the month, but remain 7.3 per cent higher on the year reflecting a structural shift to online advertising.

Overall growth in ads has clearly slowed in the past six months, leading to a cooling in actual employment growth from the red-hot pace seen last year. The official jobs report for August is due on Sept. 8, 2011, and is expected to show the jobless rate holding at 5.1 per cent. Analysts generally expect a modest rise in employment of 11,000, after a surprise drop of 100 in July.

That was one reason ANZ expects the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) to skip a further hike in interest rates for the remainder of the year. The central bank is considered almost certain to keep rates at 4.75 per cent, in part because turmoil on global markets has dimmed the outlook for domestic demand and may help restrain inflation.

Investors are still pricing in a small chance of a cut this week and a total of 75 basis points of easing by Christmas, a view not shared by ANZ.

"The declines in job advertising have been modest thus far," said ANZ chief economist Warren Hogan. "This suggests a soft patch for economic growth associated with stagnant employment conditions rather than a sharp slowdown that will drive a rapid rise in unemployment."

"At this stage we do not believe the RBA will see this as a trigger for an easing of monetary policy."

Hogan expects the unemployment rate to drift up to around 5.25 per cent to 5.5 per cent over the next 12 months. Inflation pressures remain and the uplift in mining and construction activity would cap the rise in unemployment in 2012, he added.

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