The latest national employment figures show the recovery of jobs since the depth of the Covid crisis in mid-2020 has been spectacular.
Here in the Hunter, based on the total number of employed persons, we are yet to recover all our jobs. While our pie has shrunk, employers are still out there in droves looking for candidates but coming up short. The job scarce, candidate rich market of 2020 has been turned on its head.
It's not a change that is attributable to a single element that is easily addressed.
Rather, a perfect storm of a range of factors and depending on location across the continent, the different elements take on different significance, constraining the impact of universal remedies or a quick fix.
Strikingly, the stemmed flow of talent coming from overseas is now a virtual drought. Between January 2020 and January 2021, the number of entrants to Australia on visas under 12 months dropped from 766,000 per month to just 8,000.
This shortage has put enormous strain on industries typically dependent on itinerant talent coming from overseas.
According to research conducted by Business Australia, the hardest hit sectors are marketing, recruitment, trades and labour (including agriculture), tourism, customer service, retail and hospitality, information and technology, healthcare and sales.
It's a fair list and one that would touch every economy around the country. As a consequence, there has been a replacement effect as businesses chase talent and workers have shifted to some of the voids leaving holes elsewhere.
Based on the latest National Skills Commission Internet vacancy index, the trend of record high job vacancy ads across the region continues.
Over the last 15 months, it has gone from the lowest number of ads since the series started in 2010 to the highest number ever recorded. In June 2021 it's sitting at just over 5260 vacancies. There may be some bias in that more jobs are now advertised in this way compared to 11 years ago.
However, Business Australia notes around 20 per cent of job vacancies are not advertised. Employers use informal networks such as a direct approach or advertise internally, meaning the roles are not made public.
It's difficult to predict when the market will rebalance owing to the number of variables. There is no doubt a vaccinated and fully open Australian economy will be of significant assistance.