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Living Costs Trigger Full-Time Jobs Wave

The latest monthly ABS regional monthly employment figures reveal a surging trend toward full-time roles, triggered by cost of living pressures, observes Business Hunter.


In August, full-time roles grew by 4,400. In September, that figure surpassed 10,000.

Business Hunter CEO, Bob Hawes said despite the anticipated volatility in the monthly figures, the jump in August stood out, and to have doubled that figure in September was extraordinary.

“The growth in the latest figures, resulting from a spike in Newcastle and Lake Macquarie, demonstrates people are seeking security to make sure they are best equipped to meet rising costs of living that we are experiencing,” said Mr Hawes.

Despite the huge growth in full-time employment, unemployment increased across the region, easing from 3 per cent in August, to 3.6 per cent in September, representing an increase of around 2,000 unemployed people.

This was primarily due to a rise in unemployment in the Hunter Valley, where the monthly rate jumped from 2.3 per cent in August to 3.5 per cent in September. In Newcastle and Lake Macquarie, the overall unemployment eased slightly, from 3.5 per cent in August, to 3.6 per cent in September.

Mr Hawes said part-time employment sagged across the region by around 14,000 roles.

“This is not to say there are no part time roles to be filled. Quite the contrary given the stubbornly high number of vacancies still showing across the region through job ads,” he said.

The demand for workers remains strong, with the Jobs and Skills Australia Internet Vacancy Index remaining steady in the Hunter with just under 7,000 (6,999) jobs on offer last month.

“This continues to buck the trend in other cities which have been witnessing a decline in the number of job ads as the economic slowdown begins to bite,” said Mr Hawes.

“It’s remarkable, although frustrating for businesses that so many positions are in the market and there remains a lack of workers able to fill those roles. We’re hearing from many businesses they crave for a skills and experience match as they are now constrained to take time out to provide on the job training which would have been the go to at other times,” he said.

A slight drop in the participation rate in the region suggests some workers have opted to exit the labour force.

The female labour force participation rates remain notably lower than males. In NSW, the female rate sits at 61.2% and 70.7% for males whilst in Newcastle and Lake Macquarie the figures are 61.9% and 75% respectively and for the Hunter Valley 56% and 68.8% respectively.

“We’ll need to watch this as women tend to fill more casual and part time roles than men, and if there is a squeeze on the part time opportunities, it could impact the female workforce more significantly than the males,” said Mr Hawes.

Youth unemployment (15 to 24 year olds) across the region dropped from 10.1 per cent in August to 6.4 per cent in September. In Newcastle and Lake Macquarie the figure dropped from 11.6 per cent in August to 4.5 per cent, whilst the rate increased in the Hunter Valley from 7 per cent to 9.6 per cent, representing a decrease of 3,700 in the number of youth unemployed.

“There is often volatility in the monthly rates and a number this low in Newcastle and Lake Macquarie is rarely seen. It suggests a very tight labour market for this cohort, and we’ll need to watch the next few months to see if this is the start of a trend,” said Mr Hawes.


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