Seasonal fall in payroll jobs into April

Media Release

Payroll jobs fell 0.9 per cent in the month to 15 April 2023, following a 0.9 per cent rise in the month to 18 March 2023, according to figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Bjorn Jarvis, ABS head of labour statistics, said: “The fall in payroll jobs over the latest month includes the Easter holiday period, when we usually see a short-term fall of this size.”

Given Easter is a moving holiday, it is important to factor in its timing in Autumn when considering seasonal changes in weekly data across years. In 2023, Easter fell a week earlier than in 2022, and a week later than in 2021.

“The changes in payroll jobs in 2023 followed the seasonal pattern we saw in 2021 and 2022, with a rise in the first three months and a slight fall in the week after the Easter period,” Mr Jarvis said.

Early January represents the weeks ending 2 January 2021, 1 January 2022 and 31 December 2022. End-March represents the weeks ending 27 March 2021, 26 March 2022 and 25 March 2023. The week after Easter represents the weeks ending 10 April 2021, 23 April 2022 and 15 April 2023. 

All states and territories saw a seasonal fall in payroll jobs

Payroll jobs fell in all states and territories between mid-March and mid-April 2023. Queensland started school holidays a week earlier than the others, contributing to their larger seasonal fall in payroll jobs in the month to mid-April (down 1.3 per cent).

The overlap in school holidays can differ between jurisdictions each year, affecting the comparison of state and territory change across this period. In the latest month of data, all jurisdictions other than South Australia had completed at least one week of their Autumn break by the week ending 15 April 2023.

Accommodation and food services industry saw the largest fall

In the month to mid-April 2023, payroll jobs fell in 18 of 19 industries. The falls ranged from 2.2 per cent in the Accommodation and food services industry to 0.2 per cent in Professional, scientific and technical services.

The fall in Accommodation and food services industry payroll jobs was similar to the falls seen in the weeks after Easter in previous years.

Week 0 represents the weeks ending 2 January 2021, 1 January 2022 and 31 December 2022. Week 15 represents the weeks ending 17 April 2021, 16 April 2022 and 15 April 2023. Easter fell around week 12 in 2021, week 14 in 2022 and week 13 in 2023.

“Weekly insights from this release are particularly useful in understanding the different seasonal patterns in industries. These insights complement the quarterly Labour Force and Labour Account statistics, showing what happened over the course of the quarter,” Mr Jarvis said.

Media notes

  • Payroll jobs are not seasonally adjusted, which generally requires at least three years of reasonably stable 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 pandemic.
  • 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 who are not included in payroll reporting. For more information, see the Scope and coverage section in 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. 
  • The ABS acknowledges the continued support of the ATO in enabling the ABS to produce weekly insights into the Australian labour market from Single Touch Payroll data.
  • To learn more about our different labour measures, their purpose and how to use them, see our new Guide to labour statistics. It provides summary information on labour market topics including Industry employment and Earnings data.
  • 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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