Innovation

Business hiring intentions are the worst since 2009, survey says, but it’s not as bad as you think

Patrick Stafford /

The latest Hudson Report survey shows Australian hiring intentions are at their lowest level since 2009, with New South Wales the only state to see major increases in hiring expectations.

The proportion of employers aiming to maintain their current headcounts increased by 2.1 percentage points to 65.3% – the highest level since 2009.

But the news isn’t all bad.

While the survey suggests Australian businesses aren’t keen on hiring new staff, the survey actually took place three or four weeks before the federal election. While Dean Davidson, Hudson executive general manager for Victoria, can’t say whether the election will increase hiring expectations – it’s still something to consider.

“It all depends on the various sectors and industries,” he says.

“All it takes are some green shoots of strong economic news to start that positive sentiment and that culture of growth. When they see that they will be more prepared to be aggressive about their intentions.”

The survey comes during a crucial time. Businesses are more satisfied now the election is over, but claims that companies were simply delaying investment decisions until after the campaign will now be put to the test.

The Hudson Report survey found South Australia has the strongest hiring intentions, up 1% to 24.2%, while Western Australia recorded an increase in the number of businesses looking to decrease their headcounts.

Expectations for hiring increased in New South Wales, while the ACT saw a 4.1 percentage point drop – mostly due to expectations for the Coalition to slash public service employment.

Overall, information technology has the highest intention to hire out of all the industries, up 3.3 percentage points to 36%.

While Davidson says the position taken by employers is “conservative”, there are still good points to take away.

“The devil is in the detail,” he says.

“There hasn’t been an increase in the number of companies decreasing headcounts. The movement has been in the transfer to organisations that weren’t increasing, but were just holding steady.”

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Patrick Stafford

Patrick Stafford is a freelance journalist and a former deputy editor of SmartCompany.

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