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Wednesday, 03 August 2011 12:33

Top jobs plummet as non-mining depression looms


Demand for executives across Australia has suffered a devastating crash in July, with top IT jobs demand hit particularly hard, according a new report. Compared to June, demand for high-end positions plummeted 15% across the board, while executive positions in the IT sector went into free fall, sliding 24%.

According to the monthly E.L Consult Executive Demand Index report, the non-mining Australian professional employment sectors are effectively in a depression and the prognosis for the immediate future is not good.

"Australia outside of the China led mineral boom is highly depressed and doesn't look like changing back any time soon," the report states.

"Consumer spending is low, corporate confidence is low. About the only thing that is keeping up confidence levels is the general gross domestic product numbers and they are covering up significant structural weaknesses. Overall we are currently at 50% of the peak level of executive employment hit before the global financial crisis."

Grant Montgomery, managing director of E.L Consult, told iTWire that Victoria was by far worst state hit by the downturn in executive demand and IT demand suffered a catastrophic fall.

"Victoria had a fall in demand of 28%, with IT falling 33%," said Mr Montgomery.

Demand in NSW, the next worst state was also down 15%, while the resource rich states of QLD and WA still had healthy demand, with mining-boom state WA enjoying a 7% n=boost in demand.

A conjunction between rising inflation and falling economic growth is choking off the number of Australian executive jobs on offer, according to the E.L Executive Demand index.

"Consequently, it is obvious why the Reserve Bank had no choice but to leave official rates on hold again this month. The inflation created by the resource sector is not effected and will not change with local interest rates. Any rise will only impact the local non-resource sector which is already on its knees," the report states.

Grant Montgomery said: 'We are in a stagflationary environment of sorts, where both inflation is rising and growth is falling. The RBA is stuck in the middle, having to slow the resource rich economy which is feeding demand-pull inflation, while not chocking off the anemic growth profile of the larger states such as New South Wales and Victoria and their non-resource sector industries.

'Nobody wants to say it, it is the worst possible of all economic scenarios, stagflation, which looks increasingly likely, particularly given the continuing rise of the Australian dollar and the still sicklygrowth in the US and Europe,' Mr Montgomery said.

'The June upturn last month now seems to have been a seasonal anomaly and this month's fall has pretty much averaged out the last two months into the now typical decline in new executive level positions.

'As we said last month when the E.L Index rose 11%, the spending on executive positions in the final month of the financial year clearly showed the conservatism of the market.

'Corporate players have waited until the last possible month to spend their budget rather than spreading it throughout the year because the enormous uncertainty they have on the business environment outlook.

'No wonder that Glenn Stevens, Reserve Bank Governor, spoke recently of a "new conservatism" that saw most householders more interested in saving than shopping. He also said there were those in the manufacturing, retail and tourism sectors that where experiencing cost pressures. He said , 'you've got product prices under downward pressure and costs under upward pressure.'

'The reduction in July at the start of the new financial year would tend to confirm this said Montgomery'

'The losses in July were virtually across the board. We've seen a significant decrease, mostly in the public sector, probably as the NSW government attempts to reduce the bureaucracy in that state.

'In some ways we are playing chicken with the local economy. Rates are among the highest in the world, the Australian dollar is at its highest level since being floated in 1983, choking off exports."

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Stan Beer

Stan Beer co-founded iTWire in 2005. With 35 plus years of experience working in IT and Australian technology media, Beer has published articles in most of the IT publications that have mattered, including the AFR, The Australian, SMH, The Age, as well as a multitude of trade publications.

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