The ManpowerGroup Employment Outlook Survey for Australia in the fourth quarter of 2018, has recorded a national Net Employment Outlook (NEO) of +13 per cent. This implies that more employers expect to increase staffing levels than not in the final three months of 2018. The survey collects data from over 59,000 employers in 43 countries, including 1,500 in Australia.
The strong national result is an increase of three percentage points when compared to the same time last year and returns Australia to the strongest employment Outlook reported since the first quarter of 2012. An increase in staffing levels is anticipated across all seven industry sectors and seven of eight regions during Q4 2018.
The data reveals that employers in Australia’s large firms of 250+ employees are reporting the most optimistic hiring intentions than at any time since 2011 with a Net Employment Outlook of +27 per cent, while medium-sized organisations, those that employ 50 – 249 employees, report their most optimistic Outlook since 2012 at +18 per cent. This is in stark contrast to the employment expectations reported by Australia’s smallest organisations. Micro-sized firms of ten employees or less report a flat Net Employment Outlook of just +2 per cent for the upcoming quarter, while small organisations (10 – 49 employees) report a softer Outlook of +9 per cent. This divergence between Australia’s largest and smallest firms continues a now-established trend in which employment growth is being fuelled by large organisations. In fact, a recent data analysis of the annual Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey suggested the number of small business owners confident enough to hire is falling.
In addition to Australia’s largest firms, heightened optimism can also be seen in the Transportation & Utilities sector which reported the strongest employment Outlook of +23 per cent for the final three months of 2018. This is a considerable increase of twelve percentage points quarter-on-quarter and ten percentage points year-on-year. Following close behind are the Finance, Insurance & Real Estate and Mining & Construction sectors, both reporting a solid Net Employment Outlook of +21 per cent. The Services and Manufacturing sectors have remained relatively stable quarter-over-quarter, reporting positive employment Outlooks of +13 per cent and +10 per cent, respectively. Although the Wholesale & Retail Trade sector reported the weakest hiring intentions for the upcoming quarter with an NEO of +8 per cent, this is a slight increase of four percentage points both quarter-on-quarter and when compared to this same time last year.
Regionally, Victoria has reported the strongest employment Outlook of +17 per cent for the upcoming quarter, followed closely by New South Wales at +16 per cent and Queensland at +14 per cent. The smaller states of Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania reported year-on-year declines but all remain in positive territory. After reporting subdued hiring expectations in Q3 2018, the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) is now more upbeat with an NEO of +13 per cent. The Northern Territory continues to report the weakest hiring intentions of all states and territories with a slumping employment Outlook of -4 per cent.
ManpowerGroup Australia & New Zealand managing director Richard Fischer believes this latest data affirms the strength of Australia’s labour market and suggests large businesses are the driving force. “Australia’s employment outlook has reached a six-year high and is showing no signs of slowing down as large organisations continue to report a steady rebound in employment expectations,” said Mr Fischer. “It is also notable that we are seeing a growing gap between the hiring optimism of Australia’s largest and smallest firms, an ongoing trend since 2015.”
Mr Fischer also notes the added pressure this puts on large employers to ensure they are listening and responding to today’s worker preferences for flexibility and ongoing training in order to maintain this increase in hiring optimism. “The demand by today’s workers for ongoing training and schedule flexibility is undoubtedly growing, and larger organisations have the scale and resources to accommodate these needs,” he says.