Special Feature
Part of a ZDNet Special Feature: Coronavirus: Business and technology in a pandemic

Seek reveals Australian IT job market sluggish as others recover from easing COVID-19 rules

IT job ads changed by only 1% month on month for May 2020.

Seek's latest employment report has revealed while job ads across Australia improved by nearly 40% month on month, IT job ads remained sluggish for May 2020.

On a year-on-year basis, job ads in Australia were down 52.5% for May, Seek revealed. 

The report indicated the sectors that contributed to the highest month-on-month job ad growth included the hospitality and tourism sector that spiked 138%, trade and services 36%, and manufacturing, transport, and logistics at 33%.

Seek ANZ managing director Kendra Banks attributed the growth in these specific sectors to the easing of COVID-19 social distancing regulations across the country.

"Authorities gave businesses the green light to restart their operations, resulting in increased hiring activity," she said.

On the other end of the spectrum was professional services, where sectors such as IT saw the slightest month-on-month increase of just 1% for May.

The science and technology sector was not too dissimilar with an 11% month-on-month difference, while engineering was at 8%.

"Of all of the sectors, professional services has been slower to bounce back, which could be a result of a range of factors including reduced activity and people continuing to work from home," Banks said.

"This was reflected in job ad volumes, where we saw key sectors such as information, communication and technology increase only marginally, by 1%, while insurance and superannuation was down by 2% month-on-month in May 2020."

seek-employment-jobads-may2020.jpg

Image: Seek Employment Index

As for how the spread looked like on a state-by-state basis, South Australia experienced the largest month-on-month job ad percentage change of nearly 52.5%, followed closely by Tasmania at just over 51%, while Queensland and Victoria were almost on par at around 48%.

"We continued to see promising signs within the employment market during May, with all states and most industry sectors showing positive month-on-month job ad growth," Banks said.

"Looking at the states, it's interesting to see Victorian job ads bouncing back at a faster rate than New South Wales, despite easing restrictions at a later date and maintaining strict social isolation measures. And while their state borders remained closed, Queensland is also showing signs of improvement, with job ads growing at 48.4% month-on-month."

On Thursday, the Australian Bureau of Statistics also released Australia's employment figures for May. It revealed the country's unemployment rate jumped from a revised 6.4% in April to 7.1% in May, due to 227,000 jobs lost between the two months.

This now means 927,600 Australians are currently unemployed. 

The unemployment rate on a state-by-state basis saw Western Australia hit the hardest, sitting just above 8%, followed closely by  South Australia and Queensland at 7.9%. The only state that saw improvement was the Australian Capital Territory, with unemployment numbers shifting from 4.3% to 4.1% month-on-month.

Participation rate in the labour market also worsened, collapsing to 62.9% -- the lowest level since January 2001. 

Meanwhile, youth employment levels fell by 103,000, making up 45% of those jobs losses that occurred in May. Youth unemployment levels have now hit 16.1%.

Commenting on these latest figures, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the numbers were "not surprising".  

"We are very aware of the significant blow that Australians are hit with through the course of this pandemic," he said.

"This recession will be written in the stories of those who are experiencing terrible hardship and these statistics today are a reminder to all -- not that we need one -- that with all the other noise about whatever else is going on, our task is simple and that we must get Australians back into work."

Updated 18 June 2020, 12:38pm (AEST): Statistics from the Australian Bureau of Statistics added. 

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