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Australian firms forecast 29% rise in Q1 2024 hiring rates
Wed, 3rd Jan 2024

Australian companies are approaching the first quarter of 2024 with optimism, albeit some caution, expecting a net 29% rise in hiring rates, as per the recent Employment Outlook Survey by ManpowerGroup.

A total of 1,020 employers were surveyed; 44% of them plan to increase staff numbers, 14% predict a decrease, while 38% expect no alterations in their headcount. After seasonal adjustments, the net employment outlook (NEO) stands at +29%.

This projection, despite being historically significant, marks a 3% drop from the earlier quarter, and a 4% fall from the same quarter the preceding year. Comparatively, however, Australia stands strong in the top half of the 42 countries surveyed, being 3% above the global average (+26%).

Penny O'Reilly, Managing Director at ManpowerGroup Australia, commented on the survey's findings. She said, "It makes sense that employers would enter the new year with a degree of caution, following a challenging 12 month period, dominated by market changes, talent shortages and shifting commercial priorities."

She also observed, "Australian employers absorbed the challenges of 2023 remarkably well."

Despite ongoing inflation, increasing wage pressures, and a general market slowdown due to consecutive interest rate hikes, six out of eight sectors covered in the report, including Transport, Logistics & Automotive, Financials & Real Estate, and Industrials & Materials, witnessed a downward trend in hiring intentions in Q1 2024 compared to Q4 2023.

Consumer Goods & Services, Energy & Utilities, and Healthcare & Life Sciences saw hiring intention slump by 8%, 6%, and 2% respectively. However, Australia's Communication Services sector bucked the trend by recording a NEO of +45%, a significant increase from the previous quarter's results and above the sector's worldwide average. Employers in the Information Technology industry were consistent, maintaining a steady NEO of +29%.

Smaller organisations employing 10 to 49 workers recorded the highest hiring intentions with a NEO of +38%. "We expect the challenges experienced by Australian employers during 2023 will continue, at least through the first half of 2024."

"The fact that Q1 hiring intentions remain historically high suggests leaders are continuing to remain relatively confident and navigate through this period balancing a sense of positivity with a degree of caution," added O'Reilly.

As for the Asia Pacific region, hiring managers have noted a slight regression in hiring intentions (+30%) compared to the previous quarter (-2%) and weakening year-on-year (-10%). India (+37%) and China (+33%) were the most optimistic while Japan (+10%), appeared to be the most circumspect in its hiring ambitions.

ManpowerGroup is a provider of staffing, recruitment, assessment and workforce consulting and outplacement services across 75 countries and territories.