The Australian labour market is set to cool in 2024, bringing in major changes for workers.
“Currently all signs point to a soft landing for the Australian market,” SEEK senior economist Matt Cowgill said. “But with that there will likely be a rise in unemployment over the next 12 months.”
“As the market cools and unemployment rises, the power balance that sat with the workers during the great job boom of 2021/22 will continue to reverse itself.
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“Employers with greater bargaining power will be more able to dictate the terms of employment.”
Some worker-focussed employment trends do seem here to stay, with SEEK data revealing 9.4 per cent of all ads on the site indicated the role could be done from home.
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However, this is down from 11 per cent in April 2023.
“Two years on from Australia’s last lockdown and one in 10 job ads on SEEK indicate some sort of flexible working option,” Cowgill said.
“SEEK data shows that WFH is sticking around.”
Flexibility is key
SEEK’s Laws of Attraction data reveals that work-life balance is now considered twice as important to workers compared to career development.
In particular, flexibility is the key thing employees are looking for.
But once within an organisation, this data shows that employers should focus on supporting career development that builds cross-functional skills, and career diversity, SEEK chief people and culture officer Kathleen McCudden said.
People still want career progression, she said.
On-the-job skill development and coaching is now the number one requirement.
“The aspiration for an increasing number of Australians seeking professional development is less about an ‘end-goal role’, and more about the desire for autonomy or flexibility that allows for fulfilment and optimal work-life balance,” McCudden said.
Salary growth outpacing inflation
Advertised salaries on SEEK rose by 4.5 per cent in the year to December 2023, outpacing inflation which stands at 4.3 per cent.
While the growth was large in the past 12 months, advertised salaries increased by 0.9 per cent in the last quarter of 2023.
It was an even smaller uptick for monthly changes, with just a 0.3 per cent increase from between November and December.
After a long period of declining real wages, the Seek advertised salary index is now rising in real terms,” Cowgill said.
“Growth held steady at 0.3 per cent each month in the final quarter of 2023.
“Although this is solid growth, it’s a clear slowdown from the previous quarter, when Fair Work Commission decisions delivered a bump to wages growth.”
The commission increased the national minimum wage to $23.23 an hour in July, with award minimum wages rising by 5.75 per cent.
Cost of living relief continues to be a focus for the government, with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese summoning his Labor colleagues back to Canberra this week for a caucus meeting on the topic.
While inflation has peaked, forecasts have shown it will still take more than a year for it to come back to the Reserve Bank’s target band of between two and 3 per cent.
Albanese said on Monday the government would look at advice on how to ease cost-of-living pressures without adding to persistent inflation.
“If we can find ways to put extra dollars in people’s pockets, particularly those lower-middle income earners who are doing it tough, then we’re prepared to do so,” he said.
– With AAP