Australia job vacancies fall 2% in May qtr, still historically high

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SYDNEY, June 29 (Reuters) – Job vacancies in Australia fell in the three months to May, the fourth straight quarter of decline, but were still far above pre-pandemic levels as demand for labour remains strong.

Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) out on Thursday showed vacancies in the May quarter fell 2.0%, from the previous quarter, to 431,600.

That was down 10% on a year ago, but 89% higher than in February 2020 before the pandemic struck.

“This May saw businesses continuing to report difficulties in recruiting and retaining staff,” said Bjorn Jarvis, ABS head of labour statistics.

The percentage of businesses reporting at least one vacancy increased by one point to 25% in May. “This highlights the impact of a tight labour market on a broad range of businesses,” said Jarvis.

The strength of the labour market is one reason the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) has raised interest rates 13 times to 4.1%, and might hike again next week.

Thursday’s data showed vacancies in the private sector fell 2.3% in the May quarter, while the public sector saw a rise of 0.3%. The number of vacancies was highest in health care, followed by professional services, accommodation and food, and construction.

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