Falling confidence sends job ads lower

Slowing economic conditions may be finally feeding into employers’ hiring intentions, with the number of new job ads online and in newspapers falling 0.7% in March.

The fall, which follows a 2.1% decline in February, is significant because the job ads series is considered a kind of early warning system for unemployment in the economy.

Overall, however, the number of job ads remains high, with the 267,041 ads per week placed in March still 20.8% higher than the same month in 2007.

The biggest fall was in newspaper advertising – generally the province of higher wage or professional jobs – which fell 10.5%, but internet ads increased by 0.1%.

But there appears to be some softness in internet job ad numbers too, with the SEEK employment index, which measures the ratio of new job ads to job applications, falling by 2.8% seasonally adjusted in March.

The number of new buildings approved for construction in February increased 0.1% in February, a figure roughly in line with market expectations.

Interestingly, the previously very weak NSW housing sector performed more strongly than the other major housing markets across the country, lifting 2.8% in trend terms compared to drops of 2.1% in Queensland and 1% in Victoria.

On the markets, the S&P/ASX has generated more heat than light today. Despite bouncing around in a 30 point range all morning, by 12.45pm it is up a negligible 0.2 points on Friday’s close to 5619.8.


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