Casual job opportunities spike in September quarter

Casual job opportunities spike in September quarter

The number of casual job vacancies in Australia rose by nearly 20 per cent in the September quarter, but the quantity of opportunities overall is still one-third lower than a year ago.

According to the Sunsuper Australia Job Index, which measures and tracks digital job advertisements, the number of casual roles on offer are at a record high.

However the rise in casual opportunities was not enough to offset a general slump in vacancies both permanent and casual, with the index 40 per cent lower than the same period last year.

"Although we've seen a strong recovery in permanent job opportunities this quarter, rising 12.6 per cent, the stronger recovery was actually in contingent or casual work, which rose nearly 20 per cent," said Sunsuper chief economist Brian Parker.

"Also, the ratio of contingent (temporary, fixed term contract and casual) job advertisements as a percentage of total advertisements is now 33.2 per cent, the highest in the history of Sunsuper Australian job index, which highlights employers' preference towards flexible staffing arrangements in uncertain times."

According to the Sunsuper Index there was a large variation in the movement in job vacancies by occupation during the quarter.

Manager and clerical roles grew by 12 per cent and 14 per cent respectively, however this recovery is from a low base and both remain 42 per cent lower than a year ago.

The strongest performing occupational group was education and training, where the number of opportunities rose by 51.6 per cent, albeit off a low base.

Professional job vacancies rose by 25.3 per cent in the last three months, representing the highest volume of job advertisements of all job types.

"It's also worth noting that those occupations showing the higher levels of growth, notably managers, professionals and clerical and administration, have all seen larger increases for contingent vacancies than permanent opportunities," said Parker.

Job opportunities within retail and wholesale rose 11.8 per cent, but remain 51.3 per cent lower than this time last year, while the healthcare industry rebounded strongly with demand for casuals and temps rising 22.6 per cent, although permanent opportunities rose by just 2.6 per cent.

State by state, the most consistent gains were made in New South Wales, up 24.4 per cent in permanent job opportunities and 27.3 per cent in contingent work. However, the number of opportunities in NSW is still down 35.6 per cent year-on-year.

"Victoria did, surprisingly, show improvement since June, particularly in contingent work. After recording solid gains in May, June and July, renewed lockdowns resulted in a sharp fall in the number of opportunities in August before a partial recovery in September," said Parker.

"The rebound in job prospects in the ACT is a more encouraging story for job seekers. The strong growth, particularly in contingent work, means that the ACT, down just 8 per cent on year-ago levels, along with Tasmania (down 9.5 per cent), are the regions to have best withstood the first six months of the pandemic."

Updated at 10.22am AEDT on 23 October 2020.

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