Today’s ANZ job advertisements report won’t provide job seekers with too much to cheer about. Compared with March, the total number of jobs advertised fell 7.5% in April and was 49.9% lower on an annual basis. Economists expect the unemployment rate, due to be released this Thursday, to be 5.9%. I think they’re dreaming, the plummeting number of ads simply confirms the rapid deterioration in Australia’s employment market.
But there was one surprising trend reversal in the ANZ data. Ads in newspapers increased 3.1% in April, while online ads fell 8.1%. That’s a remarkable turnaround – the online market had been consistently stealing market share for more than a decade.
Now that there’s so much demand for jobs and so little supply, perhaps employers are finding newspapers a better way of targeting the exact candidate they’re looking for? Or perhaps the newspapers have finally woken up and are charging more realistic prices – the last job ad I ran would have been more suited to the Financial Review than Seek, but the Fin wanted $3,000 for one small ad versus $270 for a month in Seek’s executive section.
Another explanation might be that, in the boom, recruiters often advertised the same job numerous times on Seek. That kept it at the top of job seekers’ search results. Now that there aren’t as many jobs, each advertisement lasts longer before it’s shuffled off the most important results page, which means the recruiters need fewer ads for each job.
Either way, Fairfax shareholders can restrain their excitement. In absolute numbers they’re still getting obliterated. There were 15 times more ads online than in newspapers (128,567 versus 8,203). But perhaps the rout has finally ended.
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Forager Funds is a boutique fund manager specialising in a value investing approach. We offer an ASX listed Australian Shares Fund as well as an International Shares Fund both aimed at delivering returns for long term investors.