Job vacancies in design and construction throughout Australia have plummeted as COVID-19 continues to impact the building sector, the latest data has found.

Released by the Department of Education, Skills and Employment, the Vacancy Report reveals that vacancies across building disciplines have tumbled sector-wide.

In construction management, for example, vacancies are down from 3,334 as recently as March to 1,928 in May – the lowest level on record over almost fifteen years of data and less than half of the 3,990 vacancies recorded during the same month in 2019.

Vacancies have also plummeted in architecture and landscape architecture, interior design, urban planning, civil engineering, electrical engineering, industrial engineering and mining engineering.

Whilst the data is not seasonally adjusted and is therefore subject to seasonal influences, year-on-year comparisons show how soft the market is.

Between May last year and May just passed, vacancies for civil engineers have been slashed by more than half from 2,113 to 1,011.

Those for interior designers, meanwhile, have plummeted from 265 to just 70.

Tradespeople have not been spared.

Over the two months between March and May, vacancies for electricians, plumbers, carpenters/joiners and painting trade workers fell from 1,715, 789, 548 and 265 to just 951, 525, 367 and 161 respectively.

The latest data comes despite quarterly data from the ABS showing that overall employment levels across the sector have held up reasonably well thus far.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, that data shows that the overall number of people employed throughout Australia’s construction sector eased back by less than one percent between February and May to go from 1.183 million in February to 1.174 million in May.

At this level, employment numbers remain at similar levels compared with one year ago.

This data could be potentially misleading, however, as official employment levels are being artificially supported by the Commonwealth Jobseeker program.