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Australia's hiring pace remains low

Australia's hiring pace is expected to remain at its lowest level in over three years, research shows.

The Manpower Employment Outlook Survey for first quarter 2013 shows that employer hiring intentions are at their lowest level since third quarter 2009.

When seasonally adjusted, the outlook is for hiring to increase by eight percentage points, which is unchanged quarter-on-quarter and six percentage points weaker year-on-year.

AMP Investments chief economist Shane Oliver said the results of the survey were not surprising given other economic data also suggested the economy was softening.

"It's consistent with what we've seen with other indicators," he said.

"The National Australia business confidence survey out today was at its lowest level since April 2009, job advertisements measured by the ANZ and skilled jobs measured by the government have been falling for last eight or nine months."

He said it also indicated that the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) may have to cut interest rates further to have a large enough impact on the economy.

"The Reserve Bank hasn't done enough yet," he said.

"It doesn't mean that the RBA's actions won't work but I do think these indicators show us the economy is weaker than the government and the RBA have been allowing for and the only way to address that in the very short term is by cutting interest rates."

The survey showed that some areas of the resource sector were slowing down due to lower commodity prices and weaker demand from Asia.

However, oil and gas projects continue to grow and demand for skilled technical trades and engineers remain high as extraction operations move from the construction to the production phase.

Mr Oliver said that suggested that while there would continue to be jobs available in the resources sector the growth may not continue to be strong enough to offset weakness in other areas such as manufacturing.

"We may not see a collapse in resource sector jobs but it's not going to be absorbing the workers that have been laid off elsewhere," he said.

The highest hiring expectations were in the finance, insurance and real estate sector where the outlook was improving by eight percentage points.