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Job ads approach GFC lows

ANZ  (ASX: ANZ) is out with its latest research into the state of the employment advertising  market and the signs for improvement in the labour market aren’t particularly inspiring.

ANZ’s Australian Chief Economist Mr Ivan Colhoun stated that: “Trends in job advertising continue to point to a softening in the labour market. Job ads and other economic indicators suggest little evidence of a pick-up in business confidence and hiring intentions, consistent with the unemployment rate continuing to trend modestly higher in the near term.”

Job advertisements declined 2% month-on-month (m/m) in August and follows a 1.1% m/m decline in July. August’s fall marks not only the sixth consecutive month of declines but it means job ads are now 19% below the level of a year ago and just 5% above the lowest level reached during the heights of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC).

One of the more positive aspects of the latest survey is that the pace of decline appears to have been moderating in recent months with some tentative signs in some states of improvement in job advertising, however over all the ANZ’s outlook sees business conditions remaining weak, which doesn’t bode well for job seekers.

The survey also found that newspaper job ads fell 3.2% m/m and now make up less than 5% of overall job ads, which serves as a reminder for investors of just how significant the decline in newspaper classifieds for media companies like Fairfax Media (ASX: FXJ) has been. Internet job ads meanwhile fell 2% m/m and didn’t appear to get a boost from MyCareer’s (owned by Fairfax) move to a free online job advertising model which occurred on 1 July as the website steps up its challenge against SEEK (ASX: SEK) and CareerOne, part-owned by News Corp (ASX: NWS).

Foolish takeaway

Weak macro-economic conditions can always appear alarming and become a worry for investors if they choose to focus on them. Even when economic headwinds abound there are still companies that are either mispriced or can continue to perform well despite headwinds – sometime even both! Investors who ‘stick to their knitting’ and don’t get affected by all the economic noise have a good chance of outperforming the market in the long-term.

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Motley Fool contributor Tim McArthur does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article.

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