Conflicting Employment Trajectories Define Asia Pacific Regions Second Quarter

Conflicting Employment Trajectories Define Asia Pacific Regions Second Quarter

Leading global professional services recruiter, Morgan McKinley, has released it's latest APAC Employment Monitor for Q12 2017. 26% increase in jobs, quarter-on-quarter and 18% increase in candidates quarter-on-quarter in Australia.

APAC EM Infographic Q2 2017

APAC Employment Monitor Q2 2017 Highlights:

  • Permanent financial services jobs decreased by 2%, quarter-on-quarter, and increased by 10% year-on-year.
  • Professionals seeking new jobs decreased by 33% quarter-on-quarter and by 6% year-on-year.
  • Contracting job decreased by 20% quarter-on-quarter, and increased by 26% year-on-year.
  • China: 7% increase in jobs, quarter-on-quarter and 16% decrease in candidates quarter-on-quarter.
  • Japan: 14% increase in jobs, quarter-on-quarter and 11% increase in candidates quarter-on-quarter.
  • Australia: 26% increase in jobs, quarter-on-quarter and 18% increase in candidates quarter-on-quarter.
  • Hong Kong: 9% decrease in jobs, quarter-on-quarter and 25% decrease in candidates quarter-on-quarter.
  • Singapore: 22% decrease in jobs, quarter-on-quarter and 51% decrease in candidates quarter-on-quarter.
 
 
In a quarter marked by contrasts–ranging from a 26% increase in jobs in Australia to a 22% jobs decrease in Singapore, quarter-on-quarter–the Asia Pacific Region is a mixture of good, bad, and unremarkable performances. 
 
“The ongoing economic and political instability both regionally and globally has caused countries to choose diverging paths, making for highly divergent outcomes,” said Richie Holliday, Chief Operations Officer, Morgan McKinley Asia Pacific. 
 
Year-on-year permanent jobs available in the region were up 10%, and down by a minimal 2%, quarter-on-quarter. Contractor figures were down a more concerning 20% quarter-on-quarter, but up by a hefty 26% year-on-year. “Overall, there are more jobs available now than this time last year, but the unevenness of the growth has left some countries lagging behind others,” said Holliday. 
 
Singapore in particular showed poor performance in Q2, causing concerns about its status as a financial services hub. A 51% decrease in candidates quarter-on-quarter indicates a gargantuan shift in the job seeker market there, as ex-pat and overseas-based (i.e. non Singaporean Employment Pass holder) individuals lose interest in a market they know they are unlikely to gain a visa to enter.
 
In addition to the regional ones, China is facing its own domestic contradictions. Seemingly teetering on the cusp of economic calamity, it again defied expectations as it reported 6.9% year-on-year growth in Q2. “Though China’s Q2 growth will allay some investor anxieties, fear of a series of bubbles is growing and resulting in more “wait-and-see anxiety” than the country can perhaps afford, long term,” said Holliday. 
 
Japan and Australia were the only countries to see growth in job seekers, which were regionally up by 11% and 18% quarter-on-quarter, respectively.  As such, the region-wide figures are not alarming, as bonus season sets much of the H1 job seeker cycle, and candidates tend to register their interest in Q1. As Australia follows Singapore’s lead in pursuing restrictive immigration policies, the likelihood that the two will contribute to a dampening of regional job seeker figures is growing.

Australia

Australia’s quarter-on-quarter figures were uncharacteristically strong, headed skyward. A 26% increase in jobs and 18% increase in candidates were almost unrecognizable for Australia’s habitually steady and level employment market.

The spike is attributed to both positive and more sinister causes. “On the one hand, Australia just experienced record performances on stress tests and job demand, but on the other, we’re seeing a response to the government’s tightening of visa laws,” said Holliday. “There is some sentiment of a mini “gold rush” among our client base to get as many qualified people hired now, before it gets considerably more difficult.”

The visa changes, which make it more onerous for businesses to hire non-residents, come into effect in Q3 and are expected to dampen the economic boom on the ground. “Australia’s growing protectionism does run a risk of dissuading some multinationals, and any further increased nationalism could further isolate it from the international business community.  That said, the encouraging solid and steady growth in Australia, which never officially fell into recession even through the darkest days of the GFC, still provides an attractive platform to many”

Contractors

  • Contracting jobs decreased by 20% quarter-on-quarter reflecting the sentiment on the ground across the region, insofar as new headcount mandates were satisfied mostly in the Q1 start-of-financial-year period for many clients.   As we progress further into the year we could see an uplift in the overall, as organisations continue to face margin-squeeze and pressure to address Fixed Costs. 
  • Contracting jobs increased by 26% year-on-year, which continues the trend toward a more flexible ‘non-Perm’ workforce generally, and this is an encouraging outcome for those employed in this style of delivery.  It also reflects a growing, global cultural trend towards increasing attractiveness of the “gig economy” over the standard 9-5 permanent role.
 

Conclusion

The region overall remains resilient, with the exception of Singapore which shows signs of being in a nascent slump. As with Europe and the United States, institutions and individuals alike are navigating a climate of high economic uncertainty. Hopes of capitalizing on the political and economic precarity of Europe and America were dashed by the Asia Pacific Region’s own political and economic uncertainties, as well as the global reticence of institutions to make bold business decisions until the regulatory skies have cleared.

View the full press release and commentary for the Q2 2017 APAC Employment Monitor here.

Morgan McKinley APAC provides specialist recruitment services across the APAC region, including Australia, Mainland China, Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore, working with clients and candidates to deliver local knowledge as well as global reach.

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Vanessa Harding-Farrenberg's picture
Joint Managing Director
vharding@morganmckinley.com.au