Job advertisements for the IT sector took a hard blow last month, falling 1.92 percent to cap off a 10 percent fall in IT jobs over the past three months, according to the Olivier Job Index.
On the whole, April online job ad numbers rose a meagre 0.01 percent, off the back of a 0.72 percent increase in March. Robert Olivier, director of Olivier Group, said the figures showed employers have kept their fingers on the recruitment pause button for the second month running since job ad figures dropped 5.9 percent in February.
"What we're seeing is that there was a very significant drop off in ads online in February, primarily a result of interest rates combined with the global crunch. Things haven't gotten worse, but they haven't really gotten better so at the moment employers are deferring hiring decisions unless essential," Olivier told Computerworld.
Olivier said that compared to the decline in job ads for the accounting, human resources, financial services and banking sectors, the drop in numbers of IT job ads surprised him most.
"You can understand why retail and banking would suffer, but there isn't such a strong correlation between interest rates, business confidence and IT as there is with other areas, so it seems to have been hit hard if not harder than most."
He cited a potential reason for this as being the fact that significant numbers of IT organisations in Australia have global parents, and the trickle down effect of the US recession has led to a similar reluctance to hire new staff here.
Other organisations with international roots who are feeling the pinch, particularly in sectors such as banking and financial services, are also likely to be cutting back on their IT spending.
Olivier said that there are two factors affecting hiring intentions; confidence and certainty, both of which aren't in great shape.
"I think the interest rate hike has knocked around consumer confidence most clearly. The fact that consumer confidence is down has affected business confidence, and that manifests itself among other things such as resisting hiring more staff until the markets improve and employers are certain of sales being able to meet budgeted figures.
"On the certainty side in the last three months, people have seen a 25-30 percent fall in the value of the stock exchange, so there are a lot of organisations whose values have been hit significantly. And we're also told that the credit crunch may be yet to hit us, but others are saying the situation is improving.
"Then you look at the US where some are saying 'we are in recession' and others are saying 'no, we're not'. There is no clear picture and no one can tell you with authority exactly where it's heading, and with all that in mind employers are naturally careful and cautious."