Job vacancies across most categories within the design and construction sector contracted in August, providing further confirmation of a softening in market conditions which has been evident since March.

Data provided on the Federal Government’s Labor Market Information Portal provided by the Department of Small Business and Jobs indicates that the number of online vacancies in August was lower compared with July across most categories of the AEC sector compared with July and is broadly trending downward as the building downturn increases.

In construction, vacancies for construction managers dropped from 3,972 in July to 3,795 in August – well down on the 4,615 vacancies recorded in August last year.

Since reaching a mini-peak in March, vacancies for construction managers have now contracted in four of the last five months – a phenomenon which indicates that a trend toward softening of market conditions is now well-established.

In architecture, vacancies for architects and landscape architects, interior designers and urban planners all contracted during the month and now sit at levels which indicate soft demand compared with recent historic standards.

Year-on- year, vacancies for each of the above categories have fallen from 828 to 728, from 446 to 228 and from 329 to 254.

In engineering, vacancies fell across most categories in August and have been trending lower since March.

Compared with the same month last year, vacancies have fallen from 2,283 to 1,926 in civil engineering, from 374 to 362 in electrical engineering and from 784 to 713 in industrial engineering.

Vacancies for engineering managers have also contracted slightly over that time (see chart).

The one bright spot is mining engineering, vacancies for which (now 768) have almost tripled compared with levels seen three years ago.