A widely-watched private survey shows job advertisements falling for the first time in five months.
ANZ’s survey shows job ads fell 5.6 per cent in May, which the bank says may be related to a budget-induced loss of confidence.
“The timing of the fall coincides with the deterioration in consumer confidence since negative news flow regarding the Commonwealth budget began and suggests that business confidence has similarly been affected,” noted the bank’s senior economist Justin Fabo in the report.
“Along with confidence, the key question now is whether the fall in job ads is largely temporary.”
The more stable trend figure continued to rise 0.5 per cent, as a result of previous months’ strength, but ANZ says the next couple of readings will be critical to determine whether the labour market has entered a new phase of deterioration.
“Economic activity appears to have lost some momentum recently after improving noticeably around the turn of the year,” Mr Fabo said.
“In particular, consumer spending has slowed and housing market activity has cooled somewhat, both at the same time that resources investment is falling sharply.”
The ANZ survey shows internet job ads fell by 6 per cent in May, while newspaper ads rose 7.2 per cent.
However, the bank says the rise in print ads probably reflects a statistical rebound from an unusually large fall in April.
ANZ expects that previous strength in job ads – which tend to predate hiring by several months – should continue to feed through to the May Bureau of Statistics employment data to be released on Thursday.
The bank’s economists are expecting 15,000 jobs to have been added last month, leaving the unemployment rate steady at 5.8 per cent.