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Staff shortages more widespread, double pre-pandemic level


Figures showing a small decline in overall vacancies conceals the true extent of the problem, ABS says.

By Keeli Cambourne 9 minute read

 Job vacancies are running at almost double the pre-pandemic rate and businesses reporting at least one vacancy have increased despite a 5 per cent fall in the overall number of positions available, says the ABS.

November job vacancies were down 23,000 compared with August, to 444,000, the ABS reported yesterday – well above the February 2020 figure of 228,000.

Head of labour statistics at the ABS Bjorn Jarvis said while the number of vacancies had begun to decline over the past six months, the ABS was seeing more and more businesses reporting at least one vacancy.

“It was 28 per cent of businesses in November 2022, a slight increase from August 2022 (27 per cent) and more than double what it was in February 2020 (11 per cent),” Mr Jarvis said.

“These figures continue to show the high demand for workers across many businesses and all industries in a tight labour market.”

The decline in job vacancies was driven by the private sector, which generally accounts for around nine in every 10 vacancies. Private sector vacancies fell by 6 per cent from August to November 2022 while public sector vacancies increased by 6 per cent.

When compared with pre-pandemic levels, both private and public sector vacancies were nearly double the February 2020 figures, up by 96 per cent and 89 per cent respectively.

”There had been more rapid growth in private sector vacancies up to May 2022, from which they have fallen over the past six months," Mr Jarvis said.

"Public sector vacancies have increased at a slower but steadier rate over that period."

Across the states and territories, the largest quarterly percentage decline in job vacancies was in NSW (down 12 per cent) and Victoria (down 7 per cent). The largest percentage quarterly growth was in Tasmania (up 13 per cent).

While job vacancies fell in 13 of the 18 industries, they remained high across all industries when compared with February 2020.

This was most acute in arts and recreation services and accommodation and food services, where vacancies were almost four times pre-pandemic levels.

“High numbers of job vacancies in all industries continue to reflect ongoing labour shortages in a tight labour market, particularly in customer-facing industries,” Mr Jarvis said.


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