1.5 The Internet Vacancy Index

The shape of Australia's post COVID-19 workforce

1.5 The Internet Vacancy Index

The NSC’s monthly Internet Vacancy Index (IVI) is the only data source that provides a consistent monthly time series of online job advertisements at detailed levels of occupations and regions in Australia. The IVI is based on a count of online job advertisements newly lodged on SEEK, CareerOne and Australian JobSearch during the month. The IVI does not reflect the total number of job advertisements in the labour market as it does not include jobs advertised through other online job boards, employer websites, or in newspapers. Nor does it take account of vacancies filled using informal methods such as word of mouth.

Key trends

Nationally, online recruitment activity fell sharply in early 2020, as a result of rising COVID-19 cases and the subsequent shutdown of non-essential services and the imposition of trading restrictions. The IVI reached a series low point of newly advertised jobs in April, declining by 56.0% (or 91,100 job advertisements) in the 2 months from its pre-pandemic level 2.

Since then, there has been steady recovery in recruitment activity. The number of newly advertised jobs has now increased for 6 consecutive months and has more than doubled from the April series low point (up by 83,300 job advertisements). In October (the latest available data at the time of writing), job advertisements increased by 6.2% (or 9,100 job advertisements).

The level of job advertisements now stands at 95.2% of pre-pandemic levels (down by 7,800 job advertisements). Over the year to October, recruitment activity has only fallen by 2.3% (or 3,600 job advertisements).

Figure 12: Internet Vacancy Index, January 2006 to October 2020

State and territory job advertisement differences

Since the onset of the pandemic, there have been some notable differences in recruitment activity at the state/territory level. This is mainly due to the significant variation in COVID-19 case numbers in each jurisdiction and the subsequent restrictions to limit the spread of cases.

After an initial period of recovery, consistent with the other states/territories, Victoria’s second wave of COVID-19 and subsequent economic restrictions saw job advertisements again decline between June and August. However, recruitment activity proved more resilient during Victoria’s second shutdown, declining to a low point of 25,700 job advertisements in August, compared with the low of 15,700 job advertisements in April. Further, in line with other jurisdictions, the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions has seen recruitment activity in Victoria begin to recover, with October representing the second consecutive month of increasing job advertisements in the state.

While the pace of recovery differs between jurisdictions, all are now on the path to fully recovering to pre-COVID-19 levels. Recruitment activity during October increased across all states and the Australian Capital Territory, and remained steady in the Northern Territory. Victoria had the strongest increase (up by 10.2% or 3,100 job advertisements), followed by Tasmania (up by 7.5% or 130 job advertisements), Queensland (up by 6.5% or 1,900 job advertisements), the Australian Capital Territory (up by 5.2% or 260 job advertisements) and New South Wales (up by 5.1% or 2,500 job advertisements).

Importantly, job advertisements in October exceeded pre-pandemic levels in Tasmania, Western Australia, South Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory, although this level of labour demand will need to remain elevated for some time to see employment return to its pre-COVID-19 level.

Figure 13: Recruitment activity by state/territory, January to October 2020

Regional and capital city job advertisement trends

Pronounced differences have also been apparent at the regional level.

For instance, in 3-month average of original data terms, 5 of the 8 capital city regions recorded declines in recruitment activity over the year to October.

Overall, capital city regions recorded an average fall in job advertisements of 20.0% (or 27,800 job advertisements) over the year to October. By comparison, job advertisements in regional areas increased by an average of 17.6% (job advertisements) over the same period.

Despite these falls, recruitment activity is recovering in capital city regions. Overall, capital city regions have experienced continuous month-on-month growth in job advertisements since June, with job advertisements increasing 74.6% from the series low point.

Figure 14: Recruitment activity by capital city/regional areas, January to October 2020


2 Pre-pandemic levels are defined as unrevised February 2020 trend job advertisements levels (that is, the February 2020 trend job advertisement level as published in the February 2020 release of the IVI).