Are workers making a break for higher wages?

Jobseeker numbers increased strongly last month as many workers look to boost their wage in response to the rising cost of living.

According to the SEEK employment index, the number of applications lodged for new jobs across the country increased by 4% in May and are now 35% up on this time last year.

On the surface, this appears to be good news for employers, with the boost in new applications more than offsetting a 3.5% increase in advertised job vacancies and pointing to an easing in the labour shortage.

But it could also be pointing to an increase in staff turnover. Given Australia’s already very low unemployment levels, it is likely that a significant proportion of the new applications are being lodged by people who are looking to change jobs rather than new jobseekers.

If that is the case, one explanation as to why application numbers are increasing could be a drive among employees to switch to higher paying jobs in an attempt to better meet increasing rent, food, fuel and mortgage costs.

Not only is that bad news on the wage inflation front, it could also mean employers could continue to face an uphill battle to retain their most valued staff.

“The big story this month is around the surge in job application numbers and what implications this has for employers and the economy,” SEEK sales director Joe Powell says. “Employers in many sectors will be pleased to receive more quality candidates for the jobs they advertise. However, it remains to be seen what impact if any this has on the loyalty of their current staff.”

According to SEEK, the employees in greatest demand in May were landscape architects, radiologists, Navy personnel, senior solicitors and environmental and natural resource workers. Applications were most plentiful for jobs in supply chain management, packing and filling, accounts, telesales and manufacturing process work.


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