FINDING a job is becoming harder with vacant positions evaporating by more than a third across the south-west.There were 157 less job advertisements listed in The Standard last month compared with December 2007 and about 100 less than two years ago in 2006.December 2008 saw an average of 41 job advertisements listed in the My Career section of Saturday’s The Standard – 36 per cent less than the December 2007 average of 64.Experts predict the region’s unemployment levels will rise in the next year as the country heads towards a recession.Warrnambool was not alone with job advertisements in major metropolitan newspapers across the country and on the internet falling by 29.9 per cent in 12 months, according to the ANZ’s monthly survey.Deakin University finance lecturer Chris Ratcliffe said it did not surprise him that demand for new labour in the south-west had followed the dwindling national new jobs trend.”In the current economic environment, people are less inclined to spend and that hits small business very quickly,” he said.”Generally, the first indicator of slowing sales is that of natural redundancy; employers with shrinking profit margins will not replace people leaving their business.”The second step is employers cutting back on their existing workforce.”He predicted local unemployment levels would follow an upward national trend.Mr Ratcliffe said despite falling milk prices, the south-west was better positioned than most regions to ride out the current economic turbulence.”We are lucky in the Western District because of the rural sector, even with the (milk) price drop, it is quite buoyant,” he said.”We’re still getting very good tourist numbers coming to the region as well this summer.” “And it’s common knowledge now that more and more people are deciding to go on holiday at home,” Mr Ratcliffe said.ANZ economist Riki Polygenis said the number of internet and newspaper job advertisements nationwide had fallen sharply in December – the eighth consecutive month of decline. The annual growth rate for newspaper job advertising is 51.8 per cent, the weakest since December 1982.”This suggests we will see further significant deterioration in the labour market and this means a rise in unemployment,” Ms Polygenis said.ANZ head of economics Warren Hogan said the survey provided further evidence that demand for new labour across Australia was now at recession levels. “ANZ is forecasting the unemployment rate to rise to six per cent in 2009, up from the current rate of 4.4 per cent,” he said. “Newspaper job advertising has slumped since the intensification of the financial crisis in mid-September last year, having declined by more than 30 per cent over the course of the final three months of 2008.”Mr Hogan said despite a rise in unemployment, Australia remained in a relatively strong financial position compared to the periods of previous recessions.
This article first appeared in Hangzhou Night Net.