Why Australia may have turned corner on job losses
Job opportunities were slashed in half last month, as the Australian job market copped the full force of COVID-19 shutdowns.
But jobseeker sentiment is beginning to improve and early May data shows an uptick in hiring activity, suggesting the nation may have turned a corner.
SEEK's first Employment Index since the government imposed widespread business closures revealed job ads were down 50 per cent between March and April.
Tellingly, the human resources and recruitment sector bore the brunt of the sudden down turn, with available roles dropping 69 per cent month on month.
It was followed by legal (down 67 per cent), administration and office support (64 per cent), sport and recreation (63 per cent), consulting and strategy (62 per cent) and sales (61 per cent) sectors.
New Government plans to lift restrictions, however, were expected to boost confidence among employers.
SEEK Australia and New Zealand managing director Kendra Banks said early May figures showed the rate of job advertising decline was easing.
In the week ending May 10, SEEK job ads were down 60 per cent compared to the same week last year.
By comparison, at the lowest point in April - the week ending April 19 - they were down 69 per cent year on year.
"This 10 per cent shift means we may have turned a corner after reaching a particularly low point of decline," Ms Banks said.
"In the first two weeks of May, we have seen job ad volumes slowly creep back up, which aligns to the will of governments to get the economy moving and get people back into jobs.
"We know this will take some time, which is why we are cautious to be too positive at this point."
Exclusive figures from SEEK revealed workers' perceptions of the job market were also improving.
In April, 58 per cent of Australians were optimistic about their future employment prospects, up from 56 per cent in March.
"As governments begin lifting restrictions, candidates are starting to feel more optimistic about their job prospects and job security," Ms Banks said.
"Like our job ad data, which shows that decline is easing, these latest results are a promising sign that we may have turned a corner and are on the slow road to recovery."
ANZ Research senior economist Catherine Birch said the job market typically fell a lot quicker than it recovered.
"Things are starting to open up now, with the government starting to relax some of the restrictions," she said.
"Over the past few weeks we have seen people starting to go out more, and you would generally expect to see additional demand for goods and services in line with that.
"Hopefully we have seen the worst of the impact but (the job market) is still likely to be pretty weak for a while to come."
Originally published as Why Australia may have turned corner on job losses