Job Vacancies

Monthly Statistical Bulletin Feature Articles

The number of job vacancies is a measure of the excess demand for labour. A large number of job vacancies is consistent with an economy in a growth phase with employers confident about the future. A small number of job vacancies is consistent with an economy in recession with employers more pessimistic about the future.

Job vacancy statistics

Statistics showing job vacancies within the economy are never as complete as other labour force statistics because many vacant jobs are filled by word of mouth processes or by processes which include only those people currently employed by an enterprise. Nonetheless changes in the number of job vacancies is a useful indicator of future changes in employment.

There are three main sources of job vacancy statistics-the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), the Department of Employment, Education, Training and Youth Affairs (DEETYA) and the ANZ Banking Group.

ABS Statistics

The ABS job vacancy series is based on a quarterly survey of approximately 4 800 employers chosen to provide adequate State and industry representation.

The ABS defines a job vacancy as a job available for immediate filling at the time of the survey and for which recruitment action had been taken. Vacancies for jobs only available to persons already employed by an organisation are excluded. This point is particularly relevant to the Australian Public Service and the public services of the States and Territories.

Excluded also are vacancies of less than one day's duration; to be filled by persons already hired, or by promotion or transfer of existing employees; to be filled by employees returning from leave or after industrial dispute; not available for immediate filling; not available within the State or Territory to which the survey return relates; for work to be carried out under contract; and for which no effort is being made to fill the position.

Figure 1 ABS Job vacancies May 1979 to August 1997

All vacancies for wage and salary earners are represented in the survey except those in the Australian permanent defence forces; in businesses mainly engaged in agriculture, forestry and fishing; in private households employing staff; in overseas embassies and consulates; and located outside Australia.

Figure 1 shows ABS seasonally adjusted job vacancy figures for the period from May 1979 to August 1997.

DEETYA Skilled Vacancy Survey

The DEETYA Skilled Vacancy Survey (SVS) is a monthly survey that provides an indication of relative demand for 16 skilled occupational groups. The SVS is based on a count of vacancies advertised in the major metropolitan newspaper of each State and the Northern Territory..

ANZ Employment Advertisement Series

The ANZ Employment Advertisement Series measures the average weekly number of job advertisements in Australia's major metropolitan daily newspapers. Because it is not based on a mathematically rigorous statistical survey technique, this series cannot be considered to be as accurate or all-encompassing as the ABS job vacancy series. However this deficiency is minimised if analysis concentrates on monthly and annual percentage changes rather than on absolute numbers.

This series does have the advantage that it is compiled monthly and hence gives a more frequent snapshot of the demand side of the labour market. In addition this series is timely; it is published within days of the end of the month to which it refers. In contrast the ABS job vacancy series lags six weeks behind the quarter to which it refers.

Figure 2 shows the seasonally adjusted ANZ Employment Advertisement Series since January 1975.

Figure 2 shows the seasonally adjusted ANZ Employment Advertisement Series since January 1975.

MESI Table 1.7

Monthly Economic and Social Indicators Table 1.7 shows:

  •  the monthly seasonally adjusted ANZ Employment Advertisement Series; and
  •  annual percentage changes.

Monthly data are graphed to show the movement in the series over the past few years.

This feature was prepared by Greg Baker.


Back to top