Jitters about the global economy and the future of the mining boom seem to be hurting employer confidence, with an industry survey showing that job advertisements have fallen for six straight months.
The monthly ANZ Job Ads survey, released on Monday, showed the number of job advertisements fell 2.8 per cent in September, making it the sixth month of falls in the series.
The data showed job ad numbers to be 10.8 per cent below levels seen a year ago, and at their lowest level since January 2010.
ANZ head of Australian economics and property research Ivan Colhoun said that falls across the mining states of WA and Queensland showed that project delays and cancellations - as well as weakened commodity prices - were part of the picture.
He added that the trend in job adverts suggested a softening labour market, which would be further revealed in official job figures numbers due on Thursday.
"When this last occurred, in the second half of 2011, Australian employment growth slowed," he said in a statement.
"Given the evidence of a mild contraction in labour hiring intentions across Australia, we expect the labour market to continue to soften, and for the unemployment rate to drift higher in coming months."
CommSec chief economist Craig James said the job market was feeling the brunt of employer uncertainty.
"Clearly the jitters about the European debt crisis have taken their toll, together with uninformed media stories about the presumed end of the mining boom," he said.
"In this sort of environment many businesses have chosen to work on getting as much as they can out of existing staff, rather than take on new workers."
However, there was hope that improvements in the global economy, and rate cuts from the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) could return sentiment to more optimistic levels, Mr James said.
At its monthly board meeting last week, the RBA decided to cut the cash rate by a quarter of a per cent to 3.25 per cent, citing softening in the labour market as one of its concerns.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics will release labour force data on Thursday, which economists expect to show a 0.2 per cent rise in the unemployment rate to 5.3 per cent.
Internet advertising (down 2.7 per cent in September) was down 10.1 per cent on a year ago, while newspaper ads (down 3.6 per cent for the month), have fallen nearly 20 per cent since May.
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