Momentum gathers in regional labour markets
In February 2021 there were over 56,500 job vacancies across regional Australia. The post-COVID recovery in regional labour markets continues to gather momentum, with demand for labour in these early months in 2021 stronger than in pre-COVID times. Specifically, regional job vacancies are edging closer to the all-time record. The latest number of vacancies is just 4.2 per cent shy of the record 59,077 jobs advertised back in October 2011.
The latest number of vacancies across regional Australia is nearly 4 per cent more than in the previous month and a very sizeable 38 per cent more than in February 2020, when many regional areas were still in the immediate wake of that summer’s bushfires. Still – as was the case in January 2021– the annual growth in regional job vacancies is universal: each and every one of the 32 regions outside the mainland state capitals had more vacancies in February 2021 than a year earlier. The largest increases include some now familiar high growth regions: Dubbo and Western NSW, NSW North Coast, Tamworth and North West NSW, NSW’s Southern Highlands and Snowy, and South West WA. Vacancies in these regions have almost doubled over the past 12 months. Looking ahead, the annual growth in jobs is set to balloon reflecting the low base of job vacancies as the COVID restrictions started taking place in March 2020.
Trend is job vacancies are highlighting some key economic dynamics occurring across the country. While Victorian regions in previous months had been over-represented among the highest-growth regions, their reduced presence in February reflects that these regions’ jobs markets have just about recovered from COVID restrictions (on a monthly basis). These regions are now recording steadier monthly increases in job vacancies, more in line with their interstate counterparts. Meanwhile Darwin and regional Northern Territory recorded the highest monthly increases in job vacancies across all regions. This reflects a broader (and long overdue) economic recovery from the post-Inpex economic malaise. The effects of that economic slump were clearly on display in the jobs market: vacancies in Darwin had been persistently trending down for almost a decade. It’s encouraging to see early signs of this turning around.
|Number of advertised job vacancies||Feb 2020||Jan 2021||Feb 2021||% change (annual)||% change (monthly)|
|Mainland State Capital Cities||111,247||111,446||119,553||7.4%||7.3%|
The top five regions with the biggest increases over the 12 months to February 2021 are:
- Dubbo & Western NSW with 95% more vacancies in February 2021 (1,398) than in February 2020 (653)
- Southern Highlands & Snowy with 78% more (830 compared to 466)
- North West Tasmania with 76% more (421 compared with 239)
- NSW North Coast with 72% more (3,069 compared with 1,782)
- Tamworth and North West NSW with 69% more (828 compared to 490)
Darwin and regional NT have topped the list of regions with the biggest jumps from January to February 2021 – highlighting the overdue recovery from a protracted and pervasive economic slump. The five regions with the biggest jumps from January to February 2021 were:
- Darwin up by 9%
- Regional Northern Territory up by 8%
- Canberra up by 8%
- Fleurieu Peninsula & Murray Mallee up by 7%
- Wimmera and Western (VIC) up by 7%
Most vacancies in the regions are still for highly skilled trades and professionals including automotive, engineering and construction trades, medical practitioners and nurses, health diagnostic and therapy professionals, legal, social and welfare professionals as well as general-inquiry clerks, call centre workers, receptionists, carers and aides.
SOURCES The Internet Vacancy Index is updated monthly by the Department of Education Skills, Employment and Business (lmip.gov.au/default.aspx?LMIP/GainInsights/VacancyReport). The RAI has an interactive Regional Job Vacancy map of the data showing vacancies in 37 regions across Australia (regionalaustralia.org.au/home/regional-jobs-vacancy-map).