Hiring Confidence Cautiously Continues

Confidence amongst Australian employers has continued a cautiously positive momentum into the second quarter of 2011. According to the results of the latest Hudson Report: Employment Expectations survey of 5,072 employers Australia-wide, a net 32.9% are reporting intentions to increase permanent headcount over Q2 2011. This result is a fractional decline of 0.2% over that recorded last quarter.


“The Australian economy kept up strong growth momentum through the December quarter last year and the unemployment rate is sitting at its lowest level in two years. Both of these factors are evident in the results of this quarter’s survey which clearly reflect a solid, ongoing confidence in the outlook of Australian employers,” said Mark Steyn, CEO Hudson Australia/New Zealand.


Almost two-thirds of the industries surveyed reported an increase in sentiment compared to Q1 2011. Resources remains the most confident industry with a net 55.7% of employers planning to increase headcount during Q2, despite a decline in Queensland, likely resulting from the mining production and transportation issues across flood-affected areas. “The industry nationally remains very strong and this is likely to continue over the coming months as part of a long-lasting recovery following a summer of natural disasters,” said Steyn.

Employer sentiment within the professional services industry also remains strong with a net 49.4% of employers planning to increase their staff numbers.


Despite a slight dip of 3.1% in sentiment, Western Australia’s hiring intentions remain the highest of all the states and territories, with a net 47.4% of employers intending to increase permanent headcount.


Employer confidence in NSW has lifted 4.7% with a net 34.1% of employers reporting intentions to increase their permanent headcount in the April – June 2011 quarter. The increase balances a slight dip in sentiment in the previous quarter as businesses sought to minimise their spending in line with the lifting of interest rates by the RBA in the latter part of last year.


“Interest rates have now been on hold since November and are not expected to increase until the second half of 2011 which may be influencing this quarter’s lift in employer confidence in NSW.”


A healthy 0.7% growth in the Australian economy over the December 2010 quarter was achieved despite the negative impact of adverse weather conditions on production and rising living costs on consumption, and a temporary plateau in private investment.


According to the ABS, the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 5.0% in January. Wage inflation picked up in the December quarter and is now running at 3.9%, up from 2.9% at the start of 2010. This acceleration was in part attributed to the ‘normalisation’ of trading conditions and the strength of competition for skilled workers.


“With the country at technical full employment, a stabilising economy and steady employer confidence, competition for employees is growing rapidly. It is becoming increasingly difficult for employers across the nation to identify and retain the best talent,” said Steyn. “Talent management programs will need to be well thought through and selection procedures robust in order for employers to identify the correct people to drive their organisations forward throughout 2011.” 

[Source: Human Capital Magazine Online]