Given unemployment was so low at the start of 2019 (it sat at 5% nationally), you’d have expected the year to have started in a blistering fashion. But it hasn’t. Don’t get me wrong – the market has still been strong – but it’s hasn’t been going quite at the speed we saw in the latter months of 2018.
Two reasons: the timing of Easter and the upcoming Federal Election.
Easter fell late in 2019 – the weekend of April 21. That’s the latest Easter has fallen since 2000, and it won’t fall later than that until 2038. And when it’s this late, it backs on to Anzac Day (April 25), which in turn has led to plenty of people taking a few days of annual leave and making a week of it, and business basically being put on hold.
This in turn put the recruitment market in to neutral around that time and it lasted a lot longer than just that week too. While business is ramping back up after a break, recruitment often gets pushed to the backburner, with everyone instead focusing on getting business back into full swing.
The second issue is the Federal Election. There’s always that bit of business uncertainty coming into an election, especially with the whiff of a change of government in the air.
Invariably, the incumbent party tries to play it as a lack of confidence in the economic credentials of the opposition, though in this case the opposition leader is a stable, known commodity, who has spent a great deal of time reaching out to the business community, aiming to allay that uncertainty.
The upshot being, whoever gets the nod on Saturday, we don’t see it as having a massive impact on the business landscape. The injection of certainty will be a good thing.
And the fundamentals largely remain excellent. National unemployment remains low (5% in March), Sydney unemployment even lower (4.3% in Greater Sydney), commodity prices are high and government expenditure remains high as well. Although there are some concerns (e.g. wages growth, inflation, Brexit & global trade tensions), not one of those is likely to upend the economic landscape in the short to medium term.
So, the forecast is that the backend of 2019 will be fast and furious, especially from a recruitment perspective. With Easter and the election in the rear-view mirror, expect the ongoing War for Talent to resume in earnest.