Once more Australian newspapers have ignored a major story about the way their own businesses are travelling. Job advertising has plunged as the economy has slowed and the major newspaper companies, Fairfax and News Ltd, have forgotten to tell this business story as they busily snipe at each other, bag TV and radio and trawl over the debris in the stockmarket.

According to figures from the ANZ Bank, newspaper job ads have fallen 22% from December to last month. Overall jobs ads are off 4.3%, thanks to the smaller 2.8% fall in internet job ads.

The ANZ Bank said yesterday that job ads again fell in June both online and in major newspapers. Newspaper job ads were almost 18% lower last month than in June 2007. And figures for the Fairfax metro and national papers show a miserable month in June.

The ANZ said the total number of jobs advertised in major metropolitan newspapers and on the internet fell by a seasonally adjusted 3.0% in June to a weekly average of 262,705 per week. That was after a 1.7% decrease in May. The total number of advertisements in June was 6.2% higher than 12 months ago.

In December the ANZ reported that the total number of jobs advertised in major metropolitan newspapers and on the internet jumped 7.1% in December to a weekly average of 274,653 per week. “This represents the strongest monthly increase since May 2007. The total number of advertisements in December was 31% higher than December 2006.

Job ads started fading from February. The ANZ said that the number of job advertisements in major metropolitan newspapers fell 3.5% in June to an average of 16,593 per week.

“This followed a 13.5% decrease in May. Newspaper advertisements are now 17.9% lower than in June 2007.”

This contrasts to the experience last December when, according to the ANZ job ads in metropolitan newspapers increased 3.9% to an average of 21,292 per week, to be up 3.9% on December 2006.

In June, the ANZ said the fall in newspaper job advertisements “was driven by decreases in Victoria (-6.8%), the ACT (-5.7%), Queensland (-5.6%), New South Wales (-4.1%), and the Northern Territory (-2.3%). In contrast, South Australia (+1.0%), Western Australia (+0.3%) and Tasmania (+16.6%) bucked the trend.”

In December it was a different story, the ANZ reporting that job ads increased in NSW by 7.7%; Tasmania (8.8%); the Northern Territory (8.2%); the Australian Capital Territory (6.3%); South Australia (5.3%); Victoria (2.3%) and Western Australia (1.2%). Queensland bucked the nationwide trend with a small decline (-0.9%).

And in analysis sent to its clients this morning, Goldman Sachs JBWere said “Fairfax’s metro mastheads ended the 2008 financial year on a soft note.

“While the total average page count remained relatively resilient (May up 3%, June flat), it was increased editorial and display advertising that masked the c.12% decline in classified pages over the May-June period.

“Total average page volumes by masthead across May-June, were: flat at the SMH; down 3-4% at The Age; and up 8% at The AFR. In classifieds, the average weekly count across all mastheads showed a drop of 6% (on pcp) in May, followed by a notable 17% decline in June. The key point area of concern was the softening in May-June employment page volumes at the metros (SMH -20%; The Age -11%).

“While this was slightly offset in May by more robust real estate volumes in May (SMH flat, The Age +9%), this was not the case in June (SMH – 3%, The Age +3%). At the AFR, pages of classified display ads were flat on pcp in May, but down 25% in June with flat real estate volumes offset by ongoing weakness in employment.”

In contrast to the 22% slide in newspaper job ads since December, the number of internet job advertisements fell by 2.9% in June to average 246,112 per week. That compares to December when they surged 7.4% to 253,361 per week. That’s a fall of 7249 jobs, or 2.8%.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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