Australian job seekers are getting itchy feet, posting 46 per cent more job applications in January than at the same time last year and posing a potential retention headache for employers.
Figures compiled for the SEEK Employment Index, the first Australian research to directly compare labour market supply with labour market demand, found that job seekers came out in force in the New Year, with job applications for new positions rising by 7.2 per cent (seasonally adjusted) since December.
Developed in consultation with Victoria University's Centre for Strategic Economic Studies, the index showed that Queensland experienced the sharpest increase at 10.6 per cent, and nationally, job applications were 46 per cent higher than a year earlier.
The number of new jobs advertised also remained high in January, holding steady with 0.6 per cent rise since December in seasonally adjusted terms. A yearly comparison shows that job ads are 39 per cent higher than they were in January 2005.
The resource-rich states of Western Australia (5.9 per cent) and Queensland (3.34 per cent) led the monthly growth in new job ads, however even in Victoria and New South Wales job ads remain about 30 per cent higher than they were a year ago.
SEEK CEO, Paul Bassat, said that job seekers are taking advantage of the buoyant market, coming out hard and early in their search for a new position.
"The number of applications job seekers posted for new positions was strongest in the first three weeks of January, when people were either dreading their return to work or they had just got back to their desks after a break.
"Conditions for job seekers are the best they've been in 30 years, and there are plenty of opportunities available for skilled and experienced people.
"The soaring job application numbers suggest that many Australian employees are not fearful of changing organisations and taking the next step in their careers," he added.
Professor Peter Sheehan, Director of the Centre for Strategic Economic Studies said that with supply and demand both strong, the economy seems poised for continued growth in output and employment during 2006.
"Job applications come from two sectors of the market, people who are looking to change jobs and those who are not employed and wish to enter the labour market.
"Given Australia's steady and low unemployment rate we anticipate that people who are already working are contributing to the jump in job applications in January. If this results in increased staff churn within companies over the coming months it could translate into increased inflationary wage pressures", he said.