Payroll jobs slower to pick up in January 2022

Media Release

Payroll jobs rose 1.0 per cent in the fortnight to 15 January 2022, following a fall of 6.8 per cent in the last two weeks of December, according to figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Bjorn Jarvis, head of Labour Statistics at the ABS, said: “Similar to last year, payroll jobs fell to a seasonal low point at the end of December before increasing in January. However, the week-to-week changes over the period showed a slower pick up in January than last year.

“This slower increase in payroll jobs in 2022 likely reflects a range of factors, including some businesses and employees delaying their return from Christmas and New Year holidays, early impacts on businesses and employees from Omicron infections and related disruption, and weather events in some regions.

“This delay meant that, while payroll jobs fell by a similar amount in the last two weeks of December (6.4 per cent in 2020 and 6.8 per cent in 2021), the increase in the first two weeks of January was slower in 2022 (1.0 per cent) compared to a year ago (3.7 per cent).”

a. Mid-December represents the weeks ending 19 December 2020 and 18 December 2021. Mid-January represents the weeks ending 16 January 2021 and 15 January 2022.

Payroll jobs can show larger short-term changes than Labour Force statistics on employment, given that employees may be away from paid work for a short period without losing their job, particularly during Summer. Information on employed people working reduced or no hours in January will be available in next week’s Labour Force release.

States and territories

Payroll jobs increased in all states and territories in the latest fortnight, ranging from 2.1 per cent in Queensland to 0.4 per cent in Victoria.

The largest growth in payroll jobs over the year was in Western Australia (up 3.1 per cent), while New South Wales was the only state or territory where payroll jobs remained lower than mid-January 2021 (down 0.7 per cent).


Every industry saw a fall in payroll jobs in the last two weeks of December, with most showing an increase in the first two weeks of January. However, most of these increases were smaller than those seen in the same period a year earlier.

Retail trade was the only large employing industry to see a greater rise in the first half of January 2022, compared with the same period in 2021 (up 1.1 per cent, compared to 0.7 per cent in 2021).

In the first two weeks of January 2021, payroll jobs fell in only one of the nineteen industries – Education and training – compared to six in January 2022.

The Education and training industry saw the largest fall in payroll jobs in the first two weeks of January 2022 (down 6.8 per cent), which was greater than the fall in the same period in 2021 (down 0.3 per cent).

Further information on how to understand seasonality in payroll jobs data is available in the Seasonality spotlight article.

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

  • Payroll jobs are not seasonally adjusted, which generally requires at least three years of data. The longstanding seasonally adjusted Labour Force statistics series can aid in the interpretation of labour statistics across periods of greater seasonality, 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. The magnitude of revisions can vary at some points of the year, such as the end of the financial year and calendar year in line with changes in the reporting activity of businesses. 
  • 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).
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