June 9, 2020 / 1:34 AM / a month ago

Australian job ads steady in May after record dive

SYDNEY, June 9 (Reuters) - Australian job advertisements steadied in May after suffering their largest ever fall in April, with a steady improvement seen as the month progressed after a very depressed start.

Tuesday’s figures from Australia and New Zealand Banking Group showed total job ads edged up 0.5% in May, from April when they had collapsed by 53.4%.

Ads were still down 59.8% on the same month last year at a weekly average of 63,428.

“The week-to-week movements are more promising, with job ads improving steadily during May, from a low point at the beginning of the month,” said ANZ senior economist Catherine Birch.

“This is consistent with the gradual rollback of COVID-19 restrictions, which has allowed some businesses to reopen, extend trading hours or increase activity and is seeing a recovery in household spending.”

Economists fear unemployment could spike toward 10% in coming months as large chunks of the economy were shut to fight the virus. Official data showed the number of employed dived by 594,300 in April, while the jobless rate rose to 6.2%.

Birch said a further drop in employment was likely in May, though a rapid pick up was expected from mid-year as much of the economy reopens.

The ANZ vacancies series is closely watched by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) given it counts actual job ads, while Australian Bureau of Statistics data is based on intentions by firms to hire.

The RBA has slashed rates to a record low of 0.25% and launched a massive bond buying programme to cushion the economy from the impact of the pandemic. (Reporting by Wayne Cole; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)

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