Payroll jobs fall 0.7% in first half of August

Media Release

Payroll jobs fell by 0.7 per cent in the fortnight to 14 August 2021, compared to a fall of 1.8 per cent in the previous fortnight, according to figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) today.

Bjorn Jarvis, head of Labour Statistics at the ABS, said: “The largest falls in payroll jobs in the first half of August were in New South Wales (down 1.2 per cent), Queensland (down 1.0 per cent), the Australian Capital Territory (down 0.7 per cent) and Victoria (down 0.6 per cent).  

“These four states and territories had lockdowns for either all or part of the first half of August, in addition to existing restrictions and border closures across the country.” 

Payroll jobs in South Australia rose by 1.5 per cent in the first two weeks of August, following the lockdown in late July when payroll jobs fell by 2.0 per cent.

New South Wales and Victoria accounted for more than two-thirds (70.0 per cent) of payroll jobs lost in the latest fortnight, which is greater than their pre-pandemic share of payroll jobs (58.4 per cent in mid-March 2020).

“Impacts from lockdowns continue to be highly visible in payroll jobs data, particularly when the two largest states are both in lockdown,” Mr Jarvis said.

“We have also seen how rapid the recovery in payroll jobs can be, when the lockdowns end, such as in South Australia during August 2021 and in the six weeks after the end of Victoria’s sixteen week lockdown last year.”

Nationally, most industries saw a fall in payroll jobs in the first half of August. Among the largest employing industries, Accommodation and food services (down 4.4 per cent) and Wholesale trade (down 1.4 per cent) saw the greatest falls, whereas the largest increases were seen in Education and training (up 1.1 per cent) and Construction (up 0.6 per cent).

“Most (79.0 per cent) of the increase in payroll jobs in Construction across the fortnight were in New South Wales, where restrictions on the industry eased in early August. However, the increase in Construction jobs in New South Wales was only around one-fifth (20.0 per cent) of those lost in late July.” Mr Jarvis said.

Current COVID-related government support payments are paid directly to people or businesses, rather than through payrolls, which can affect the comparison of payroll job falls over the pandemic.

Payroll jobs only include jobs where a person was paid through the payroll in a pay period. Some payroll job falls may include employees who remained attached to their job but were temporarily stood down and not paid by their employer.

The ABS acknowledges the continued support from the Australian Taxation Office in enabling the ABS to produce weekly insights into the Australian labour market.

Media notes

  • While Greater Capital City Statistical Areas (GCCSA) don’t necessarily align with the areas covered by public health orders, they are similar enough to provide useful insights. GCCSA and substate data are available with each release, in Tables 5 and 5a.

  • Payroll jobs are not seasonally adjusted, which generally requires at least three years of data. The seasonal changes accounted for in the longstanding Labour Force statistics series should be considered when interpreting impacts and recovery in employment statistics through the COVID-19 period. 

  • Payroll jobs are predominantly employee jobs paid through payrolls. Some industries, such as Agriculture, forestry and fishing and Construction have high proportions of owner managers. For more information, see the Scope and coverage section of the Methodology of this release.

  • In each release, as more complete data are received, payroll jobs and wages estimates are revised. Fortnightly releases coinciding with the start of month involve higher rates of imputation for payroll jobs with monthly pay frequencies. This can contribute to greater revisions in subsequent releases. Industries with higher proportions of monthly pay frequencies, such as Mining, are particularly affected.

  • While the ABS accounts for employees being paid with different frequencies, additional reporting activity may flow through to published estimates at some points of the year (such as the end of the financial year).

  • When reporting ABS data you must attribute the Australian Bureau of Statistics (or the ABS) as the source.
  • For media requests and interviews, contact the ABS Media Team via (8.30am-5pm Mon-Fri).
  • Subscribe to our media release notification service to get notified of ABS media releases or publications upon their release.
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