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Agriculture Feeling the Strain with More Jobs than Workers

For the first time in Australian history, there are more positions actively recruiting than there are people looking for work.

On Thursday (18 August 2022) the ABS announced that the unemployment rate dropped to a 48-year low of 3.4%.

While the lowest unemployment rate in decades seems like something to celebrate, it’s come about because fewer people are working or looking for a job. Australians in work or job-hunting dropped from 66.8 per cent to 66.4 per cent last month, resulting in lower unemployment.

Bjorn Jarvis, head of labour statistics at the ABS, said: “The fall in unemployment in July reflects an increasingly tight labour market, including high job vacancies and ongoing labour shortages, resulting in the lowest unemployment rate since August 1974.”

The ag sector isn’t the only industry struggling to fill positions.

“In July, there were fewer unemployed people (474,000) than there were job vacancies (480,000 in May),” noted Mr Jarvis.

That means there’s more than 1 vacancy per job seeker, more in ag.

The hits just keep on coming, with the ABS’s data on Employed persons by Industry division of main job (ANZSIC). May 2022’s seasonally adjusted number shows just under 278,500 people employed in Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing, the lowest number in over 35 years.

The ABS’s data also shows that over the last year, job mobility in Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing rose from 2.8 to 5.4 per cent. Indicating almost double the number of people leaving for other industries than in 2021.

Wage Growth Accelerating

In an effort to entice workers into vacant positions, and conversely, to stay in their current ones, pay is accelerating. Employers are competing harder, resulting in larger pay packets commissions and bonuses.

ABS data shows average income in the Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing industry rose 18.6% between 2020 and 2021 – over $10,000.

The Financial Review reports that a “wave of pay increases” is now hitting, in a perfect storm of high inflation, low unemployment and the need for continual forward momentum.

For more of The Lucas Group’s insights into employment, head here.

Source: ABS, ABC, Australian Financial Review

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