Vacancies for design and construction professionals throughout Australia are continuing to fall amid what appear to be softer job market conditions, the latest data shows.

Published by the Department of Small Business and Jobs, the latest report shows that job vacancies fell across all categories of architecture, engineering and construction professionals during the month of December.

Whilst the numbers in part reflect the Christmas slowdown (the data is not seasonally adjusted), they also point to a broader slowdown in hiring which took hold from March last year.

Vacancies for construction managers, for example, have declined in eight of the past nine months.

Those for civil engineers and landscape architects have each fallen during six of the past nine months whilst vacancies for architects/landscape architects have declined during each of the past five months.

Year-on-year, vacancies in December 2019 were lower compared with those in December 2018 across every category of built environment professional which is captured in the data (see chart).

Not surprisingly, the slowdown is being most significantly felt in architecture, which is heavily exposed to the slowdown in multi-residential construction.

Nationally, December vacancy readings for architects/landscape architects and interior designers stood at 500 and 178 – the lowest December readings for five years and since the global financial crisis respectively.

Nevertheless, the latest data should be read with caution as other data suggests that demand for workers remains strong.

Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, for example, suggests that the number of people employed throughout the building and construction sector in Australia during November stood at record levels.

Across all sectors of the economy, the number of job vacancies advertised on online sources edged up by 0.6 percent or 1,000 jobs in December on a trend basis (which strips out seasonal and ‘once off’ factors).

This is a reasonably positive sign for the overall economy that the labour market may be stabilising after vacancies trended downward throughout most of 2019 and fell by 7.9 percent over the year.