Job applications near 300 per white-collar vacancy, with recruiters saying it’s never been this tough

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One of the hardest parts of this week’s update to the JobKeeper and JobSeeker policies, and the July Economic and Fiscal Update, is news it is only going to get tougher for people to find work for the remainder of the year.

In the space of just a few months, Margaret-Anne Oxenham lost her job and her brother due to coronavirus.

“He got COVID and passed away,” she told the ABC.

“Who would have thought I wouldn’t be working and this would happen?”

She lost her secretarial job when the pandemic struck and has been applying for work ever since.

“I do like to be busy, and I’m not ready to retire,” she said.

She did finally have some luck, landing a job with a legal firm and is due to start next week.

Madison McKoy is also looking for work and is on JobSeeker.

He was playing Mr Beauregarde in the musical Charlie and the Chocolate Factory when the shows abruptly stopped.

“We had to finish in Brisbane because of this, and they sent us back home and I came back to Sydney,” he explained.

“So I haven’t worked since March, like a lot of people.”

Mr McKoy is also a trained accountant, so that is the work he is chasing now but he said it has been really tough.

“Personally, I’m quite a chipper person, so I can so I can try to find some good from anything that’s going on, it’s basically how I was raised,” he said.

“But, the whole economy, just looking around, and having lots of friends who are in dire straits and unable to make ends meet and not quite sure of maybe even where their next meal is coming from.”

The “harsh” reality now, as the Treasurer put it, is an unemployment rate north of 7 per cent, set to climb to over 9 per cent, with a jobless rate that would be more than 11 per cent without JobKeeper.

Mark Smith manages people2people recruitment and places workers in sales, marketing, customer service and administration roles.

He told PM this is the longest downturn in the jobs market he has ever seen.

“We’re basically bumbling along the bottom now and waiting for a turn,” he said.

“When that turning point happens? I’m not entirely sure.”

Hundreds of applicants for each job

According to Labor’s analysis of the latest ABS job vacancy and JobSeeker data, there are 13 job hunters for every vacant position across the nation.

But Mr Smith said, in the industries where he places workers, it is far worse than that.

“Now it’s just skipped above 275 in terms of the average number of applications that people are receiving, so that’s substantial,” he said.

“South Australia, it’s now 250. WA, for example, is up about 300-plus, along with Queensland.”

Mark Smith pointed to the biggest problem he believes is preventing job creation — confidence.

He said both job seekers and bosses were lacking it amid the ongoing pandemic.

The Business Council of Australia’s chief executive Jennifer Westacott agrees that is the missing ingredient for an economic recovery.

“And a crucial part of getting confidence back is to demonstrate to the community that we can manage these local outbreaks,” she explained.

“And we need to remind people of what we’re trying to do here.

“We are trying to suppress the spread of this virus, we’re trying to manage these local hotspots, we’re trying to keep the most vulnerable people safe.

“In doing that, and painting a path for the community about how we open up sections of our economy as the health circumstances permit, we will generate that confidence that is so vital to getting the economic activity that we need to generate the jobs we need.”

Mr Smith said he, at least, can now plan for his own business needs following the Government’s JobKeeper update earlier this week.

“It means we can make some decisions now,” he said.

“We’re not sitting as a zombie business waiting for something saying ‘What are we going to do now?’ Now we can plan.”

By business reporter David Taylor (Original ABC Article)

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