The latest Manpower Employment Outlook Survey results show that the steady increase in hiring intentions in Australia will continue into the third quarter of 2016. Of the 1,500 public and private employers surveyed, 13 per cent indicated they are looking to hire over the July to September time frame, while the majority (78 per cent) intend to make no change to their current headcount. Both figures remain unchanged since last quarter.
The resulting national Net Employment Outlook (NEO) of +8% is up three percentage points from both last quarter and the same time last year.
Managing director of Manpower Group Australia and New Zealand Richard Fischer said the latest survey results points to employers seeing positive signs ahead, despite some broader macro challenges and less upbeat economic indicators.
“The uptick in hiring intentions for the next quarter presents a picture of national resilience among businesses. Companies are largely looking to bolster their talent or maintain headcount – and this is in the context of some broader challenges such as stagnant wage growth, an uncertain national political landscape, and record low interest rates.
“It would appear businesses are blocking out the noise around economic and political uncertainty and getting on with executing their business plans. This is true of both large corporations as well as small to medium enterprises, which have been coined as the driving force of our economy.
“Further, we are seeing positive signs that bolster the argument of Australia’s transitioning economy, with growth flagged on the one hand in areas such as services, whilst on the other we are seeing a continued decline in the mining industry,” Mr Fischer added.
The latest survey reveals a few bright spots for job seekers across the country. Employers in the Australian Capital Territory forecast the nation’s strongest hiring intentions and report an outlook of +16%, up seven percentage points quarter-on-quarter and 13 percentage points year-on-year. Similarly, businesses in New South Wales and Victoria also indicated they will increase their headcount in the next three months, reporting NEO of +12% and +11%, respectively.
The Northern Territory reported its weakest and third negative hiring outlook since the territory was first included in the survey in quarter two of 2004. It reported a sluggish NEO of -4%, down two percentage points from last quarter and down six percentage points from the same time last year.
“Employers in the Northern Territory in particular continue to feel the impact of the mining downturn and slow population growth,” observed Mr. Fischer.
“While the majority of employers in the Northern Territory are not looking to change their headcount in the next three months, it will be crucial to help them transition its economy to new areas, which we believe will result in opportunities for the wider employment market.”
Bleak prospects are also reported in Western Australia where the NEO stands at a weak -6%, although the third-quarter outlook represents a 10 percentage point improvement quarter-on-quarter.
Across the sectors surveyed, employers in Finance, Insurance & Real Estate for the eleventh consecutive quarter reported the strongest NEO of +15%. Hiring intentions jumped three percentage points quarter-on-quarter and the same time last year.
“While broadly the mining sector continues to decline as a major economic driver, the recent property boom and focus on infrastructure has led to the Mining and Construction sector seeing an uptick in hiring intentions, showing a 10 percentage point quarter-on-quarter increase in Outlook to +5%.
“Hiring is incrementally increasing and stabilising in construction and property across Australia as a result the growing number of infrastructure projects commencing after gaining approvals. This looks likely to continue given the current political and societal climate in particular,” added Mr. Fischer.
Employers in the Wholesale Trade & Retail Trade sector are also anticipating a conservative hiring pace with an Outlook of +4% for next quarter, increasing by five percentage points quarter-on-quarter and by one percentage point year-on-year.
Meanwhile, employers in medium-sized businesses are expecting the strongest hiring environment in the July-September time frame, and the NEO of +11% represents a seven percentage point jump from the last quarter. Micro and smaller employers are also showing encouraging signs and reported NEO of +2% and +9%, respectively.