Demand and pay premium for AI jobs not what they were in 2022

AI jobs skills Leigh

The number of Australian jobs demanding skills in artificial intelligence (AI) appears to have peaked between 2021 and 2022, with Assistant Minister for Employment Andrew Leigh, based on data from popular jobs websites, tracing a steady decline in employers seeking AI-relevant skillsets over the past year.

Speaking at an Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) and Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) joint conference on Tuesday, Leigh noted that, despite the surge in public interest in AI technologies, particularly with the advent of consumer generative AI technologies, sector-wide demand for AI-specific skillsets within the local jobs market appears to have waned in recent years.

Citing figures from employment marketplace Seek, he noted that the share of job advertisements that mention ‘artificial intelligence’ rose six‑fold from 2017 to 2022, representing just over 0.16 per cent of job postings.

Between 2022 and 2024, however, this figure dropped by a third (currently sitting at just over 0.10 per cent).

As well, the share of local job ads classified as ‘AI jobs’ peaked at 0.20 per cent of postings in 2021 (surging from 0.06 per cent in 2017), before declining slightly to 0.17 per cent in early 2024.

In the banking and financial services space, ‘AI Jobs’ account for around 1.5 per cent of job ads posted (the third highest after the science and technology and ICT sectors). In the insurance and superannuation space, around 0.6 per cent of job ads mention AI.

Science and technology employers, unsurprisingly, are the most AI skill-hungry, with around 3 per cent of job ads in this category mentioning AI.

Leigh factored in that improvements in the classification and categorisation of AI jobs may account for this apparent decline in jobs seeking out AI skills, with “our keywords are better at capturing the nature of AI jobs in 2017 than in 2024”. However, the decline appears in both keyword searches and jobs postings themselves, suggesting a softening demand for those with AI-relevant skills.

“In 2024, AI jobs comprised only 0.17 per cent of job postings, meaning that just 1 in 588 advertised roles were for AI jobs,” Assistant Minister Leigh said.

“From 2022 to 2024, AI jobs declined as a share of job postings.

“Similarly, a simple search for the phrase ‘artificial intelligence’ in posted jobs shows that the share of such positions also dropped from 2022 to 2024. In 2024, only about 1 in 1,000 advertised roles contained the phrase ‘artificial intelligence’.”

Australian firms also appear less hungry for AI specialists compared against their anglophone counterparts. Citing figures from Lightcast, US-based labour market data provider, Leigh noted that just 0.4 per cent of employment postings in Australia were targeted at AI jobs.

By contrast, AI jobs comprised 0.84 per cent of job advertisements in the United States, 0.54 per cent in Canada, and 0.51 per cent in the United Kingdom. However, he did concede that Lightcast data may not be as comprehensive – and thus as exhaustive for such country-to-country comparisons – as those offered by Seek.

The jobs site data also revealed that the once significant wage premium offered for AI specialists appears to have declined in recent years.

Based on Seek data, Leigh, alongside former Seek chief economist Matt Cowgill, calculated that the pay gap between AI jobs and other jobs in the same state and occupational category has fallen steadily since 2017.

That year, the estimated pay premium for AI jobs was at 11 per cent.

In 2023 and 2024, the pay premium for AI jobs was calculated at just 4 per cent.

Despite the premium drop, AI specialists still attract, on average, a 31 per cent higher salary than non-AI workers, with the current average advertised yearly salary at $121,275.