Australian job ads surge

SYDENY: The number of jobs advertised in newspapers and online in Australia rose by almost 20 per cent in February, according to a bank survey released yesterday which suggests unemployment has peaked.

The ANZ survey found total job ads rose by 19.1 per cent in February to a weekly average of 159,778 - just by 2.3 per cent under their level a year ago.

ANZ chief economist Warren Hogan said job advertisements were continuing to grow from their cyclical low point last year and that the unemployment rate was expected to slowly ease from its current 5.3 per cent. “In the near term, the forward indicators appear positive for more employment growth through the first half of 2010, although probably at a slower pace than seen over the past four months,” he said.

Hogan said there was a trend towards part-time or casual work, with a record 30.2 per cent of all jobs now involving less than 35 hours a week.

“And despite the big surge in employed people, total aggregate hours worked across the economy remains near the level it was a year ago,” he said. “This indicates a significant degree of spare capacity or under-employment still exists among current employees in terms of their potential to increase their work hours.”

The Australian Bureau of Statistics will release employment figures on Thursday.