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Australia job ads dip in April, pace of decline slows

[SYDNEY] Australian job advertisements in newspapers and on the internet slipped for a sixth straight month in April, but the pace of decline slowed in a sign of possible stabilisation.

Figures from Australia and New Zealand Banking Group showed total job advertisements fell just 0.1 per cent in April from March, when they dropped 1.7 per cent.

Ads averaged 166,464 a week, 5.6 per cent lower than in April last year.

"After five successive steep falls, it is pleasing to see a virtually unchanged result in job ads for April," said ANZ's head of Australian economics, David Plank.

He noted the ads series had been softer than government data on vacancies which hit record highs in the February quarter.

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The vacancies series is valued by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) since the Australian Bureau of Statistics surveys firms directly about their labour needs rather than just counting ads.

Australia's labour market has tightened steadily even as the economy appeared to slow, with the unemployment rate at 5.0 per cent in March and just above an eight-year trough of 4.9 per cent.

Plank said the ads series suggested employment growth would slow to a pace where unemployment would stop declining.

"This makes it unlikely that wage growth will accelerate by enough for the RBA to be confident of meeting its inflation target," he argued. "The labour market needs to get stronger, which is why we think the RBA will ease policy on Tuesday."

The RBA holds its May policy meeting on Tuesday and some analysts are tipping a cut in its 1.5 per cent cash rate.


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