Job vacancies at ‘all time high’

The South East has defied a state-wide employment and job vacancy boom, with the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) figures revealing fewer people are now employed in our region than in 2020.

The ABS’ most recent labour force data show the number of people employed in May 2021 in the South East was lower than the corresponding period in 2020, with 86,900 in 2021 and 88,100 in 2020. Of the 86,900 employed in May 2021, 47,300 were men and 39,700 were women.

ABS job vacancy data for the South East was not publicly available, however data from Regional Development Australia Limestone Coast (RDALC) show at least 464 jobs were advertised on its job boards across the Limestone Coast in May, with “hundreds” more going unadvertised.

“We know there would be more jobs advertised locally in shop windows for example, however we are confident that we are capturing the majority of them,” RDALC business and workforce development manager Rachael Ashman said. “From the work the Regional Work SA team is undertaking in the field, we know that hundreds of jobs are going unadvertised and many that are advertised go on to be re-advertised on several occasions as they are unfilled,” Ms Ashman said.

In February 2021, when RDALC started reporting on job vacancies in the region off the back of a report recommendation 432 jobs were advertised, while 461 were advertised in March and 439 were advertised in April. The SE Voice understands the number of jobs advertised in June will reach 576.

“We are consistently seeing significant numbers of vacancies in the health care and social assistance, construction and manufacturing sectors,” Ms Ashman said. “Food processing roles make up the majority of manufacturing roles and individual support and personal care attendants’ roles are routinely advertised.”

The development manager said most job vacancies were in Mount Gambier and the Naracoorte- Lucindale Council areas. It comes as data from the ABS reveal South Australia recorded a record number of job vacancies in the May quarter, with 21,300 positions currently available.

The total represents a 213% increase from the corresponding quarter of 2020 and the second highest surge in Australia behind Tasmania’s 250% increase from May 2020 to May 2021. The data also show in the last two months South Australia has created 22,400 jobs and now has 872,300 people employed, 453,000 of which are men with 419,300 being women.

Over 60,000 more people were employed than the corresponding period in 2020. South Australia’s Innovation and Skills Minister David Pisoni credited the increase in job opportunities to State and Federal Government investments in new apprentice and trainee wage subsidies. He also said the state’s investment in infrastructure was driving a wave of job creation in metropolitan and regional Australia.

“The private sector is also investing heavily with the volume of private new capital expenditure in SA in the March quarter 2021 coming in 21% higher than a year earlier – the strongest in the nation by far with the figure for Australia increasing by just 0.8%,” Mr Pisoni said. “The number of dwelling approvals in South Australia in April 2021 was 41.8% higher than a year earlier and retail turnover in South Australia in April was 16.6% higher. “South Australia’s strong growth in employment opportunities vindicates the (State) Government’s economic policies in the wake of the pandemic.”

While the number of job vacancies reached a record-high across South Australia in May 2021, the state’s unemployment rate of 5.7% was the highest in Australia, but continues to reduce. In the South East the unemployment rate was 4.8% for May according to the ABS. RDALC does not collect data on unemployment rates.

Ms Ashman said as RDALC’s data collection was relatively new, the organisation could not confirm if its job vacancy figures were in fact an increase on previous periods. “Generally, we see job vacancy fluctuations throughout the year depending on seasonal need, for example during harvest,” she said.

“We do know from other research undertaken there continues to be a need on a national level for increased numbers of workers in health care and social assistance due to the aging population and NDIS. “We have seen increased roles in the construction sector, and we imagine the housing stimulus has driven that increased demand for workers.”

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