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Australia job ads fall 2.5% in August as lockdowns spread

·1-min read
A sales assistant is seen seen through the window of a retail store displaying a job vacancy sign in central Sydney, Australia

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australian job advertisements slipped in August as coronavirus lockdowns spread from Sydney to Melbourne and Canberra, though the drop was minor compared to the losses seen during the first stage of the pandemic last year.

Monday's figures from Australia and New Zealand Banking Group showed total job ads fell 2.5% in August from July, when they fell 1.3%.

At 195,995, ads were still up 79% on a year earlier when the labour market was recovering from a national pandemic lockdown which had shut many industries for a month. This time, around half the population are under some level of restrictions.

"Ads have been more resilient this time around - the cumulative 3.7% fall over the past two months was miniscule compared with the 64% plunge last year during the national lockdown," said ANZ senior economist Catherine Birch.

"In a positive sign, Victoria's new job ads rebounded in July following the state's fourth lockdown, providing evidence that job ads and employment should recover quickly again once restrictions ease."

The jobless rate has fallen by much more than expected this year to reach 4.6% in July, though the latest drop was partly due to people being unable to look for work and thus not being counted as unemployed. [nL1N2PQ03U]

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) is seeking to drive unemployment down to 4% or even lower in the hope of finally lifting wages growth after years of tepid gains.

The central bank holds its September policy meeting on Tuesday amid speculation it may delay a planned tapering of its bond buying programme due to the economic impact of the lockdowns.

(Reporting by Wayne Cole; Editing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa)

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