Employment optimism is dwindling as are local job prospects, as a new survey reveals a decline in the number of businesses looking to hire employees for the next quarter.
According to the latest Manpower Employment Outlook Survey, Australia’s Net Employment Outlook (NEO) has declined to 10 percent and is now sitting at its weakest point since the fourth quarter of 2009.
Those looking to hire is decreasing, with only 20 percent (down from 24 percent) willing to increase staff numbers, while those businesses keen to downsize has remained steady at 11 percent.
Manpower Group Australia and New Zealand managing director Lincoln Crawley said employer sentiment is weaker as a result of local and global market uncertainty.
“The high exchange rate, low consumer sentiment and uncertainty in Europe are making employers nervous and holding back hiring in many parts of the economy.”
The survey did shine a positive light on Australia’s job market though, Crawley said, with the statistics for those wanting to hire suggesting some employers are still looking ahead despite flagging confidence levels and are responding to economic uncertainty by adjusting their workforce strategies from month to month.
According to the survey, employer confidence in the mining and construction industry has dropped significantly, with wholesale and retail reporting a slight drop in hiring intentions for the coming quarter compared to last. Intentions in the services sector has remained steady.
“The mining sector has been venerated as the workhorse of the Australian economy since the GFC, but the reality is it only makes up about two per cent of our labour market,” Crawley said.
He also believes frustrations over continued skills shortages and a lack of effective solutions in the sector have seen employers take a step back from the aggressive hiring that’s been a constant in the industry since 2010.
In contrast, public administration reported a minimal increase in hiring, while employers in the finance, insurance, real estate and manufacturing sector reported the most improved forecast.
The survey results come one month after the OECD Economic Outlook report was released, which stated Australia was set to experience strong economic growth this year and in 2013, well ahead of the United States and United Kingdom.
“Australia’s business projections are strong, but employers are understandably cautious in their hiring and investment,” Crawley added.