Over the course of the pandemic, the ABS has highlighted changes in the number of people working reduced and no hours for 'economic reasons' and 'other reasons' (which have both tended to increase rapidly during periods with lockdowns and other restrictions) and people who were on 'annual leave, holidays, flextime or long service leave'.
For January 2022, given the extent to which people were sick, the ABS has also highlighted data on people working reduced or no hours due to 'own illness, injury or sick leave'.
Last year, in January 2021, the large 4.9% fall in hours worked mainly reflected more people than usual taking annual leave. At that time there were relatively low numbers of active cases of COVID within the community and impacts were relatively localised.
Chart 1 shows the much larger fall in hours worked in January 2022, as the labour market impacts from the Omicron variant began to be seen. The fall reflected a much higher than usual number of people with an illness or on sick leave, along with higher than usual numbers of people taking annual leave or working reduced or no hours due to economic and other reasons.