Aussies are quitting their jobs in droves

I recently spread my wings across the ditch to visit Sydney. It was interesting to be on the ground in another country where there is a sense of déjà vu against some of the trends we are also seeing in New Zealand. Two key commonalities for me:

  • The Australian labour market is also tight – finding and retaining staff is a challenge.
  • Aussies are upping sticks and moving from the big cities as they seek the good life in the regions.

In this article, I am going to deal with the difficulties Australian employers are facing retaining staff – I write about Sydney’s (and the other big Australian cities’) exodus of people to the regions in a subsequent article.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has just published information regarding how frequently people are changing jobs. The data confirmed that “The Great Resignation” is not just an anecdotal story for Aussies, rather people are quitting in their droves, just when employers need them the most.

Over the February 2022 year, some 9.5% of employed people changed their job – the highest job mobility rate in a decade! To put things in perspective, this represented 1.3 million Australians who changed their jobs.

Before the pandemic, job mobility had generally been trending down, and reached a record low of 7.5% during the first year of the pandemic (which represented about 970,000 people changing jobs).

But it seems that the pandemic has caused many people to reassess what matters in life. Covid-19 has shown us that many of the things we take for granted can change overnight, and so why wait to go after what you really want?

Other key insights from the data for Australia include:

  • Job mobility is more pronounced for women (10%) than men (9.1%).
  • Some 57% of people changing jobs shifted between industries, and 45% changed their occupation!
  • Almost all industries saw a rise in job mobility in the second year of the pandemic, with the largest increases seen in professional, scientific and technical services (7.4% to 11.7%) and wholesale trade (5.9% to 10.0%).
  • The only industry to show a decline in mobility between the first and second year of the pandemic was mining (a slight fall from 11.8% to 11.3%).

If this article interested you, then more information regarding labour mobility in Australia can be found here. Unfortunately in the New Zealand context, we don’t have a labour mobility dataset that is as recent as the Australian data to compare against. However, we do know from a variety of New Zealand business surveys that issues related to retention of workers, and competing with others to find employees, are generally amongst the key reported business challenges.