Entry-levels jobs swallowed by international students


Recent analysis from SEEK showed that ads for entry level jobs rose sharply over the pandemic before falling over the year to September:

Entry level job ads

As shown in the next chart, job ads grew fastest for the lowest paid jobs, which were running 50% above the pre-pandemic level:

Job ads by pay scale

Unemployment rates also fell the most for lower skilled workers:

Unemployment by skill level

The situation is reversing, however, with data from Jobs & Skills Australia (shown in the below chart from Justin Fabo) showing the biggest decline in recruitment difficulty among low skilled workers:

Recruitment difficulty

A key driver is likely the record surge in international students in Australia, the majority of whom work in low-skilled positions while studying.

As shown in the next chart, there were a record 673,000 temporary student visas on issue in October, an increase of more than 300,000 year-on-year and around 100,000 more than the 2019 peak:

Temporary student visas on issue

Anglicare raised concerns this month that demand for starter jobs is far outstripping supply across country, posing problems for younger Australians seeking entry into the labour market:

Anglicare’s annual Jobs Snapshot report found that there are now an average of 26 applicants for each entry-level job vacancy.


“Our snapshot shows that almost 560,000 Australians in this situation are looking for work”, executive director Kasy Chambers said.

Australia’s labour supply has risen at a record pace due to unprecedented net overseas migration.

Combined with the softening economy, this surge in supply has driven the number of applicants per job well above pre-pandemic levels, pointing to rising unemployment:

Unemployment rate vs job applications

Younger workers are already being adversely impacted with the youth unemployment rate rising to 9.2% in October, its highest since late 2021:

Youth unemployment rate

Record numbers of international students combined with the softening economy spells bad news for Australians seeking entry-level jobs.

About the author
Leith van Onselen is Chief Economist at the MB Fund and MB Super. He is also a co-founder of MacroBusiness. Leith has previously worked at the Australian Treasury, Victorian Treasury and Goldman Sachs.