Total job advertisements fell in August for the fourth time in the last five months, according to ANZ (ASX:ANZ) research.
Total job advertisements in print and online fell 0.6% during the month, while annual growth fell to 6.1% year over year, the bank's job advertising series shows.
Newspaper job ads fell by 3% sequentially, as the trend towards online advertising continued – the number of newspaper ads are now 15.6% lower than a year ago, while online advertising is up 7.3% over the same period.
The only state or territory where newspaper job ads did not decline sequentially was the Northern Territory, where listings jumped nearly 20%. The sharpest declines were felt in Western Australia, followed by New South Wales and Queensland.
But even online listings took a hit during August, falling 0.5% from the month before and 4.2% against the recent peaks recorded in March. Trend growth is also far below the long-term average.
Despite the downward trends, ANZ Chief Economist Warren Hogan said the declines in job advertising has so far been “modest.”
He said the data “suggests a soft patch for Australian economic growth associated with stagnant employment conditions, rather than a sharp downturn that will drive a rapid rise in unemployment.”
ANZ forecasts that the unemployment rate will rise from the current 5.1% to between 5.25% and 5.5% in the next 12 months.
This could impact the RBA's stance towards interest rates, Hogan said. “Any noticeable further weakness in labour demand could change the RBA's assessment of medium-term inflation risks,” he said.
The expected rise in unemployment will likely be capped in 2012 due to an uplift in mining and construction activity, Hogan added.
The official employment numbers will be published on Thursday.