There is no “great resignation” in Australia

The ABS has released an interesting report on Australian job mobility, which is derived of the quarterly labour force statistics.

The report counters concerns that the “The Great Resignation” being experienced in the United States and elsewhere is being replicated in Australia.

While staff turnover has picked up over recent quarters in Australia, this is not out of line with historical experience and largely reflects delayed/deferred job mobility post lockdowns:

The February 2021 data showed that 7.5% (975,000) of employed people had changed their employer or business in the first year of the pandemic.

This was the lowest rate of job mobility on record in the annual series. It was lower than the previous estimate for the year ending February 2020 (8.1%) and slightly lower than the previous low in the series (7.7% in the year ending February 2017)…

What does the employment tenure data show?

Immediately prior to the pandemic, around 4.7% of employed people had been with their employer or business for fewer than three months. This fell to 3.2% early in the pandemic, as people with shorter employment tenure were over-represented in employment losses, and was slightly elevated during 2021, as people returned to work. This figure was between 5.2% and 5.5% in each of the four quarter months of February, May, August and November 2021…

What does reason lost or left last job data show?

Immediately prior to the pandemic, around 228,000 people indicated that they left a job because they changed to a ‘better job’ or ‘wanted a change’. This fell to around 129,000 people in May 2020, before rising to pre-pandemic levels in May 2021 (267,000 people). There were more than 300,000 people who had lost or left a job who reported this in both August and November 2021.

Given the reduced job mobility during the first year of the pandemic, some of this increase in 2021 will reflect delayed/deferred job mobility. The rolling two-yearly average for this reason was around 206,000 people in November 2019 and around 222,000 people in November 2021…

What does the future employment expectations data show?

Immediately prior to the pandemic, around 9.4% of employed people indicated they did not expect to be with their current employer or business in 12 months. This fell to 8.1% early in the pandemic, as people with shorter employment tenure were over-represented in employment losses and job mobility. Expectations of change were slightly elevated at the end of 2021, at around 9.9% of all employed people.

The number of people indicating they expect to change jobs in the next 12 months also rose in November, from 636,000 people in August 2021 (4.9% of employed people) to 705,000 people in November 2021 (5.3%). This quarterly increase of around 70,000 people was greater than the usual seasonal increase, which averaged around 24,000 over the previous five August-November periods.

People indicating that they expected to retire in the next year also increased, up to 159,000 people in November 2021 (1.2%). This compared with 139,000 people in August 2021 (1.1%) and 110,000 people immediately prior to the pandemic (0.8%).

It is important to remember that these are only expectations for the future and the actual outcomes may be different.

Now is certainly a good time to move jobs given the number of unemployed per job vacancy is tracking near historical lows:

Nevertheless, panic over the “Great Resignation” is so far unfounded when it pertains to Australia, especially given the employment-to-population ratio is running at a record high:

A higher percentage of Aussies are working than ever before.

Unconventional Economist

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