So will Australia’s developing surge in unemployment finally appear in Thursday’s release of November’s labour force figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics? You’d have to hope they would after another bad month’s report in that fairly reasonable predictor, the ANZ jobs ad series figures for November.
Unemployment does tend to be a lagging indicator, but with the spate of job losses reported in recent weeks (800 from the ANZ itself, including another 200 on Friday), you’d be entitled to think that the official figures should start catching up with the reality of a sluggish economy, especially in manufacturing and retailing.
This series has been falling now for seven months in a row, but so far there’s been little sign of the slump appearing in the official figures. Sure, the overall growth in the job market has gone, but there hasn’t been an explosive rise in the number of people out of work, or a collapse in job creation, as we have seen in the US, especially last month.
But could this be the month after the ANZ reported that the fall in job ads was a record 8.6% for newspapers and the Internet in November, after they fell 5.9% in October.
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The fall in November was the seventh month in a row that the index has dropped and the 211,199 average weekly ads was 18.6% down on a year ago, after being down 9.8% in October on the same month of 2007. There were just 11,767 jobs in the nation’s newspapers each week last month.
It was the steepest fall since the ANZ began releasing the data on a monthly basis in 1999.
”Over the last two months, newspaper job advertising has declined by the most in the 30-year history of the survey,” said ANZ head of Australian economics Warren Hogan in a statement. ”This tells us that hiring intentions have been heavily impacted by the latest wave of uncertainty and financial distress caused by the global financial crisis.”
The ANZ said the number of job advertisements in major metropolitan newspapers dropped by 12% in November, the second month in a row they have fallen by that large an amount. In October, newspaper ads fell 12.1% and compared to 2007, November’s figure was down a massive 42.7% on the same month of that year.
No wonder Fairfax is under pressure — APN News and Media, the big regional publisher, is doing it tough and News Ltd has joined Fairfax in cutting staff numbers, but on a less noisy basis. The cuts are reportedly concentrated in its community and suburban papers at the moment.
The ANZ said the biggest falls in newspaper job ads last month “were in the Northern Territory (-17.4%), Queensland (-16.6%), Western Australia (-14.9%), South Australia (-14.2%) and Victoria (-12.6). There were also large falls in Tasmania (-9.5%), and New South Wales (-8.0%); the fall in the ACT (-2.5%) was more modest.”
The pace of lost jobs on the Internet continues to quicken. In October, the fall was 5.5% on September, this month it is 8.5% November on October. The average number of weekly Internet job ads is now under 200,000, at 199,433 per week — down almost 22% from the all-time high of 255,456 in April of this year.