Businesses hiring fewer staff, shifting to part-time arrangements

Labour market conditions are easing but remain tight, particularly for higher-skilled occupations, according to the December 2023 quarter labour update from Jobs & Skills Australia (JSA).
 
JSA reported a slowdown in jobs growth, from 0.5% in the September quarter to 0.4% in the December quarter. At the same time, there’s been a shift from full-time employment (which fell 0.4% in the December quarter) to part-time employment (which rose 2.2%).
 
The slowing economy was reflected in a 0.4% quarter-on-quarter reduction in the number of hours worked by Australia’s labour force. In year-on-year terms, the number of hours worked actually increased 1.2% – but this was less than the 2.8% increase in jobs. In other words, the average worker is now doing fewer hours.
 
JSA suggested “employers may be hoarding workers in what is still a reasonably tight labour market and are instead preferring to reduce employee hours in the first instance, rather than letting staff go in response to the gradual softening in conditions”.
 
That may explain why JSA’s survey of employers found employers are still experiencing challenges finding suitably skilled workers to fill vacant positions.
 
“While recruitment difficulty has fallen across both higher- and lower-skilled occupations over the year, employers continued to encounter greater difficulty recruiting for higher-skilled occupations.”