SYDNEY, Oct 5 (Reuters) - Australian job advertisements dipped for a third month in September as coronavirus lockdowns shut Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra, but were still well above pre-pandemic levels in a sign of resilient labour demand.
Tuesday's figures from Australia and New Zealand Banking Group ANZ.AX showed total job ads fell 2.8% in September from August, when they declined 2.7%.
At 189,272, ads were still up 61% on a year earlier and 22% higher than in January last year before the pandemic first hit.
"Underlying labour demand is still robust, despite lockdowns," said ANZ senior economist Catherine Birch. "Nationally, the proportion of businesses reporting vacancies was still almost double what it was pre-pandemic."
"As NSW and Victoria progressively reopen through Q4, we expect ANZ Job Ads, employment and hours worked to rebound and underemployment to drop."
New South Wales state is due to start easing restrictions from next week as first dose vaccination rates top 70%, while Victoria should ease later in October.
The jobless rate has still fallen by more than expected this year to reach 4.5% in August, though the latest drop was largely due to people being unable to look for work and thus not being counted as unemployed.
Some of this decline could reverse in coming months and ANZ expects unemployment to top out a little above 5%.
The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) is seeking to drive unemployment down to 4% or even lower in the hope of finally lifting wages growth after years of tepid gains.
The central bank holds its October policy meeting on Tuesday and is considered certain to hold rates at 0.1% and stick with its current bond buying programme.
(Reporting by Wayne Cole Editing by Shri Navaratnam)
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