Monthly Employee Earnings Indicator methodology

Latest release
Reference period
October 2023 to March 2024



This release presents experimental estimates of wages and salaries paid by active employing businesses and organisations to their employees in the Australian economy.


Data is available for:

  • Australia total
  • States and territories


Australian Tax Office (ATO) Single Touch Payroll (STP) administrative data combined with ABS Business Register data.

Collection method

The ATO provides selected employer and employee level data from the STP system to the ABS. These data are combined with employer population and characteristics data from quarterly ABS Business Register snapshots.

Concepts, sources and methods

Wages and salaries are gross values (prior to taxation and deductions) and include wages, salary payments and allowances paid through Australian payrolls.

Employee superannuation and severance and termination payments are excluded.

History of changes

Refined imputation method included in 21 May 2024 release.

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 experimental estimates of wages and salaries paid to employees by employers in Australia for reference months.

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 Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) to produce statistics.

The estimates for the MEEI are derived from STP data and are presented as: 

  • month percentage change between the current and previous month 
  • annual percentage change between the current and same month in the previous year, and 
  • levels in $million.

How the data is 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 Australian Business Number (ABN) registrations to the Australian Business Register, which is managed by the ATO. To support 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 wages series previously included in the Weekly Payroll Jobs and Wages in Australia release, 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, state and territory 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 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

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 and salaries exclude payments to employee's superannuation as well as severance and termination payments. Wages are gross amounts, prior to taxation and deductions and include:

  • wage and salary payments (including payments to Australian residents working in a foreign country who were paid through an Australian payroll, and bonuses where they are reported in the same field as normal payments),
  • allowances (such as overtime, working weekends or public holidays, working away from home),
  • the value of payments in kind (where a fringe benefit amount is recorded).

More specifically, the following STP reported income items are included in the production of wages and salaries 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 is transformed

The STP data is 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.

The following subsections describe the transformations used to produce the data for statistical purposes.



Creating statistical unit level data


Creation of aggregates

How data is 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 the Standard Economic Sector Classifications of Australia. In this release, data received around 6 weeks after the end of the latest reference month have been used to produce the estimates across the time series.

From the 21 November 2023 release, employment size groups for 0-4 and 5-19 employees are collapsed into the 0-19 employees size group. This population is more challenging to compile estimates for, in addition to being more affected by lags in employer reporting to STP. Subsequently, these size groups see higher rates of both imputation and weight adjustment than other size groups. The ABS will continue to investigate improved methods which may enable the separate release of these employer size groups in the future.

In the future, the MEEI outputs will be expanded to include separate components of wages and salaries (such as overtime and bonuses) as well as additional remuneration components (such as termination payments).

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.

Coherence with other ABS releases

The methods adopted for the MEEI have been aligned as closely as possible to similar earnings statistics produced by the ABS. Changes in wages and salaries in these estimates may differ to other statistics due to differences in the concepts, scope and methodology used. For example, these estimates:

  • contain a combination of administrative data collected for taxation purposes from employers, whereas other ABS data sources are compiled for the explicit purpose of producing statistics
  • exclude unreported cash in hand payments which may be included in household and business surveys
  • are not yet adjusted with respect to seasonality, unlike other labour market releases
  • do not account for hours worked, hours paid for, job attachment where a payment has not been made, or jobholders temporarily stood down without pay, or employment status of employees (i.e., full time or part time), which may be considered in other labour market measures.


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.

Factors affecting interpretation

MEEI estimates are derived from data collected via the STP system, which effectively supports employer reporting obligations and ATO operational requirements through enabled software.

STP was not primarily designed to support the production of statistics, hence some inherent characteristics contribute to variability in the estimates and revisions between releases.

To help users understand this complexity, different factors affecting the interpretation of MEEI estimates are explained below.


Compositional change


Leap year effect

End of financial year

Imputation rollout effect


Business register quarterly frames


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