SYDNEY, Oct 6 (Reuters) - Australian job advertisements climbed for the fifth straight month in September in a positive sign for the economy which re-opened from coronavirus lockdowns earlier-than-expected, though ads were still down on a year earlier.
Tuesday’s figures from Australia and New Zealand Banking Group showed total job ads grew 7.8% to an average 118,424, almost double from a low of 63,565 in May.
Ads have bounced every single month since a record plunge of 53.2% in April when the first wave of lockdowns hit.
Despite the gains, ads were still down about 25% on September last year.
“The question now is whether a return to pre-pandemic levels of job ads and vacancies would be enough to entrench a solid labour market recovery,” said ANZ senior economist Catherine Birch.
“Right now, we need to get a huge volume of people – who were until recently employed – back into the workforce, along with new entrants and those wanting to re-enter the workforce,” Birch added.
“This suggests that job ads and vacancies may need to sustain materially higher levels for some time.”
Official data last showed the jobless rate eased back to 6.8% in August from a high of 7.5% in July but economists fear unemployment could spike toward 10% in coming months due to uncertainty about the economic outlook.
The ANZ vacancies series is closely watched by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) given it counts actual job ads, while Australian Bureau of Statistics data is based on intentions by firms to hire.
The RBA has slashed rates to a record low of 0.25% and is expected to reiterate its willingness to do more if needed at a monthly policy meeting later in the day (0330 GMT). (Reporting by Swati Pandey; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)