Monthly Employee Earnings Indicator methodology

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Reference period
April 2023

The Monthly Employee Earnings Indicator (MEEI) is a measure of wages and salaries based on the Australian System of National Accounts 2008 and the Australian Conceptual Framework for Measures of Employee Remuneration. The MEEI presents percentage change in wages and salaries paid to employees by employers between the current and previous month and annual change (same month, last year).

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) receives payroll information from employers with Single Touch Payroll (STP) enabled payroll and accounting software each time the employer runs its payroll. The ATO provides selected employer and job level data items from the STP system to the ABS to produce statistics.

The estimates for the MEEI are derived from STP data and represent the wages and salaries paid to employees by employing businesses and organisations within Australia in the reference period.

This release also includes experimental estimates for the dollar value of wages and salaries paid by employers to employees in the reference month, rather than an index. In the future, the MEEI will be expanded to include other components of remuneration such as termination payments.

How the data are collected

Scope and coverage

The scope of the MEEI is active employing businesses and organisations in the Australian economy. The population is represented in the form of a frame drawn from the Australian Bureau of Statistics Business Register (ABSBR). The ABSBR is primarily based on ABN registrations to the Australian Business Register, which is managed by the ATO. To ensure alignment with other ABS economic indicators, the MEEI takes its population snapshot (which statisticians usually refer to as a ‘frame’) on a quarterly basis.

Not all employing businesses report to STP regularly and the use of a frame and other statistical methods enable wages and salaries to be estimated for all employing businesses and organisations. This is different to the Weekly Payroll Jobs and Wages series where the scope and population are the same, that is businesses and organisations reporting to STP.

A quarterly frame is used to maintain a contemporary view of businesses, ensuring that new businesses, changes in business structures and characteristics (such as industry and employment size) are as up to date as possible. Employer characteristics are refreshed with each quarterly frame and are held constant between quarterly frames. When changes in the characteristics of businesses such as industry, state and territory and/or size occur, there may be some visible impacts at the transition point in the reference months where frame information is updated (January, April, July, October) due to the difference between the consecutive frames.

Statistical Units

The businesses on the ABSBR are separated using a two-population model. The two populations are known as the profiled population and the non-profiled population. The main distinction between businesses in the two populations relates to the complexity of the business structure, diversity of the activities undertaken and the degree of maintenance required to reflect the business structure for statistical purposes.

Non-profiled population

Profiled population


In the MEEI, the statistical unit that captures the employing activity consists of ABNs from the non-profiled population and TAUs from the profiled population. Each statistical unit is classified to its state or territory, industry and employment size according to information sourced from the ABSBR.

State and territory geography reflects a business’ employing locations, not the residential address of their employees.

Defining wages and salaries and other types of remuneration

Wages and salaries included in this indicator are based on the Australian System of National Accounts 2008 and the Australian Conceptual Framework for Measures of Employee Remuneration.

The STP reported wages and salaries are in scope of these estimates. Wages are gross amounts, prior to taxation and deductions and include:

  • salary payments and allowances,
  • labour hire payments and foreign income,
  • the value of payments in kind (where a fringe benefit amount is recorded),
  • bonuses where they are reported in the same field as normal payments.

More specifically, the following STP reported income items are included in the production of wages estimates:

  • gross income amount (including bonuses),
  • allowance income,
  • other income (not specified),
  • foreign income amount including tax exempt income,
  • Community Development Employment Project income.

An adjustment is made for the reportable fringe benefit tax (FBT) amounts (both taxable and tax exempt). FBT is predominantly merged into the STP reported data towards the end of the financial year and would distort the wages and salaries at this time. The application of the FBT factor to monthly reference periods is done as one of the final steps in transforming the aggregates and more detail is provided as part of the aggregate creation step.

How the data are transformed

The STP data are received in the form of millions of transactions of employer payments to employees. The ABS applies a series of transformations to this data to facilitate its use for statistical purposes.

The ATO provides STP transactions to the ABS on a weekly basis. Transactions are generally for payments of wages and salaries for a defined pay cycle period reported in the week.  Weekly data can contain data for other forms of payments or corrections to previously reported transactions. Submissions of STP vary from employer to employer based on pay cycle frequency and reporting arrangements of individual employers, however, most report at the time the payroll is run. There can be reporting lags and other events that can affect regular employer reporting, which can result in revisions.



Creating statistical unit level data


Creation of aggregates




How data are released

Summary of outputs

Each release contains both level estimates and percentage change movements for calendar month reference periods. Estimates are available for national, state and territory, Australian and New Zealand Standard Industry Classification (ANZSIC) division, employment size and public/private sector, as outlined in Standard Economic Sector Classifications of Australia.

In this release, data received around 6 weeks after the end of the reference month have been used to produce the estimates for the reference period.

Time series information

The estimates are presented as an original series only, as seasonally adjusted and trend estimates are not yet available. At least three years of reasonably stable data are required before seasonal patterns can be observed and adjusted for.


Legislative requirements to ensure privacy and secrecy of this data have been adhered to. In accordance with the Census and Statistics Act 1905, results have been confidentialised to ensure that they are not likely to enable identification of a particular person or organisation.

All personal information is handled in accordance with the Australian Privacy Principles contained in the Privacy Act 1988. For more information, see ABS Privacy.

Acknowledgement of source

These estimates are based on Australian Business Register (ABR) data supplied by the Registrar to the ABS under A New Tax System (Australian Business Number) Act 1999 and tax data supplied by the ATO to the ABS under the Taxation Administration Act 1953. These require that such data is only used for the purpose of carrying out functions of the ABS. No individual information collected under the Census and Statistics Act 1905 is provided back to the Registrar or ATO for administrative or regulatory purposes. Any discussion of data limitations or weaknesses is in the context of using the data for statistical purposes and is not related to the ability of the data to support the ABR or ATO’s core operational requirements.

The ABS would like to acknowledge the critical support from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) in enabling the ABS to produce these statistics.

Data variability

These estimates are presented as an ‘original’ data series, and do not include seasonally adjusted or trend data time series found in other labour statistics releases (e.g. Labour Force). 

STP is a relatively new program (and data source). Generally, three to five years of data are required before good seasonally adjusted data can be produced, hence it is not yet possible to produce a seasonally adjusted series (with seasonal elements removed) or trend series (with both the seasonal elements and irregular fluctuations removed). This means that variations in these estimates may reflect seasonal changes in the labour market in addition to other labour market shocks (such as COVID-19 related impacts) in the economy.

Seasonal characteristics may be seen:

  • around national public holidays, where increases in the wages and salaries paid by employers may be evident in industries where penalty rates are paid.
  • ahead of the Christmas period, where considerable labour market activity in a range of industries can temporarily increase workers hours and the number of employees paid.
  • across school holiday periods, where some industries experience lower business activity. This is particularly pronounced in the holiday period after Christmas in the Weekly Payroll Jobs and Wages in Australia estimates, resulting in a decrease in the wages and salaries paid by employers.
  • in industries where periodic bonuses are paid. While bonuses may be paid at any time during the year, they often have an industry pattern. For example, the effect of bonus payments is seen in the Weekly Payroll Jobs and Wages in Australia estimates in the Mining industry around February/March and August/September, and around March and September in the Financial and insurance services industry.



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