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Jobs market booms: The workers in high demand

Young smiling African-american female sales clerk with her arms crossed by chest looking at you by cash register
Australian retail workers are in demand according to new data. (Source: Getty)

Australia’s employment market is still running red hot, with last week’s job data confirming that our unemployment rate is still at a near all-time low of four per cent.

The figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics also confirmed that nearly 18,000 new jobs were created in March, with a massive 30 per cent fewer people unemployed compared to March 2021.

Yahoo Finance Australia spoke with employment industry leader Charles Cameron, ceo of recruitment industry body RCSA, to get his thoughts on the booming market for talent in Australia and discuss his organisation’s own jobs report.

Accommodation, Health and Retail workers in demand

We asked Cameron if there were any industries that were seeing particularly strong demand for staff, or whether demand was similar across all sectors of the economy.

“Our latest jobs report, which we released to coincide with the ABS Job data, indicates that workers in accommodation and retail are particularly in demand, with jobs in the health sector also seeing a significant increase,” he said.

The jobs report Cameron is referring to is the RCSA’s own Australian Jobs Index, a quarterly measure of demand for talent based on data collected from over to 6,000 employer, recruitment agency and niche job boards across Australia.

Offering a deeper dive below the monthly headline figures released by the ABS, the Australian jobs index report is a useful addition to the employment market data set. This quarter’s report also brought up some unexpected results.

For example, the Trades and Services sector underperformed the market in January to March this year, seeing a 5.1 per cent contraction from the previous quarter.

“Over the medium-term demand in this sector has risen steadily and peaked last November,” Cameron said. “We do not consider this a trend, but rather a short-term aberration that should reverse during 2022."

Doctor holds a protective mask and banknotes in his lap.
Wage rises are starting to filter through in the health sector. (Source: Getty)

Wage rises occurring in certain industries

One factor of particular interest in the run-up to the federal election in May is whether the historically strong demand for workers is translating into wage rises. We asked Cameron if his industry had seen any evidence of this to date.

“In certain sectors definitely,” he said, going on to add that “once again, accommodation and retail, nurses and some professions are all seeing increases in salaries due to increased demand”.

The demand for the staff in the health sector in particular, is starting to bite.

“Some of our members in the healthcare recruitment sector have reported their clients offering up to two and a half times award rates and still not securing the talent they need,” Cameron said.

While it seems clear that certain sectors of the job market are experiencing peak demand that is already filtering through to wage growth, this is not yet the case across the whole employment market; and remains limited to specific industries.

Robust enough to weather the storm

Although the employment data from just about all sources is encouraging for Australian workers and job seekers, there are significant challenges ahead. The ongoing conflict in Ukraine as well as the prospect of rising interest rates domestically, are both likely to affect the demand for labour in the medium term.

So, what should we expect from jobs data in the coming months?

“Despite the headwinds in the global economy, we expect demand for talent to continue well into the next quarter, as we believe the employment market is currently robust enough to overcome the present economic challenges,” Cameron said.

It’s a bullish opinion, but one borne out by the data given Australia is currently experiencing a once in a generation demand for skilled labour brought about due to the pandemic and lower net migration.

Australian workers should continue to be optimistic about job security and the prospect of increased pay for a while yet. Now might be a great time to approach your boss about a pay rise.

However, now is not the time for complacency, as the employment market may start to change towards the end of the calendar year when the predicted interest rate rises start to flow through to consumer confidence and retail sales.

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