Weekly Payroll Jobs and Wages in Australia methodology

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Reference period
Week ending 8 May 2021

How data are collected


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

Scope and coverage

The scope and coverage of these estimates are largely defined and constrained by the characteristics of the data sources from which these estimates are produced. As such, users should note that not all jobs and wages in the Australian labour market are captured within these estimates.

Payroll jobs

Payroll jobs as reported to the ATO through STP are in scope of these estimates. All payroll jobholders regardless of age or Australian residency status are included. Persons reported via STP must hold either a Tax File Number (TFN) or an Australian Business Number (ABN).

A payroll job is a relationship between an employee and their employing enterprise, where the employee is paid in the reference week through STP-enabled payroll or accounting software and reported to the ATO. Where an employee is paid other than weekly, the established payment pattern is used to include payroll jobs paid in weeks outside the reference week.

Payroll jobs reported via STP exclude owner managers of unincorporated enterprises.

Employers with 20 or more employees (large employers) commenced transition to STP reporting on 1 July 2018, with approximately 99% of large employers reporting through STP at the time of this release. Payroll reporting via STP is still relatively new and some employers have been granted concessions to enable a longer transition period to mandatory STP reporting.

Employers with less than 20 employees (small employers) began transitioning to STP on 1 July 2019. The ATO has made reporting concessions available for small employers where they:

  • employ family members or other ‘closely held’ payees,
  • are micro employers with one to four employees,
  • employ intermittent or seasonal workers, or
  • don’t have access to a reliable internet connection.

As such, at the beginning of September 2020 approximately 77% of small employers are reporting through STP. This figure is lower than reported previously, as the ATO has recently redefined and revised their underlying employer population from a 2017 basis to a 2020 basis. This resulted in a decrease in the proportion of small employers reporting through STP as a large number of small employers (with closely held employees) are exempt from STP reporting for this financial year.

In addition, payroll jobs reported in the Defence Industry (ANZSIC Class 7600) are excluded from these estimates by the ABS to better align with other Labour estimates.


The STP reported wages associated with each payroll job 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.

The total wages concept broadly aligns with the Australian System of National Accounts (ASNA) definition of wages and salaries, with the exception of payments to employee's superannuation and severance and termination payments which are excluded.

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

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

Other data sources

The STP data are enhanced through combining other administrative data held by the ABS (also sourced from the Australian taxation system).

Sex, age and geographic variables are primarily sourced from Client Register data (supplied by ATO to the ABS as part of the transfer of Personal Income Tax data). Sex can only be sourced from Client Register data. When age and geography are not available from Client Register data, they are sourced from STP data. Jobholders whose characteristics cannot be linked or derived (from either Client Register or STP data) are assigned an ‘unknown’ category for that characteristic. For more information, see the Data components, totals and index calculation section of Data limitations and revisions.

Industry of activity and employment size variables of the employing business are sourced from the ABS Business Register.

Further detail on the ATO Client Register and ABS Business Register are included below.

ATO Client Register

ABS Business Register

How data are processed

To produce estimates from STP data, a number of processes and treatments are applied.


Accrual of end of financial year payments




Creation of indexes


These estimates are also affected by the dynamic nature and source of data. The impact on accuracy and coherence with other ABS labour statistics are described below.



How data are released

All estimates are presented for weeks ending on a Saturday. Core estimates are released fortnightly on Tuesdays during the COVID-19 period (i.e. a 17-day time lag after the reference week). The ABS has worked to optimise both the timeliness and quality of these data, however revisions in subsequent releases are necessary. Please see Data limitations and revisions for more information. 

Summary of outputs

The following core estimates are produced for each release:

  • payroll jobs and total wages, presented as indexes and percentage change movements, and
  • average weekly wages per payroll job, for selected characteristics.

Other than indicative numbers on changes in jobs between March and the current period, levels for jobs and wages are not available for release. The payroll jobs index provides a measure of changes in jobs over time since the week ending 14 March 2020. Information on levels for jobs is best sourced from estimates of filled jobs from Labour Account Australia and estimates of employed persons from Labour Force, Australia. More information is included in Differences to Labour Force employment statistics.

Estimates are available at the national, state and territory and Australian and New Zealand Standard Industry Classification (ANZSIC) division by selected personal attributes, including sex and 10 year age group.

Australian Statistical Geography Standard sub-state regions (Statistical Area 4 and Statistical Area 3) and ANZSIC sub-division estimates are updated on alternate releases for payroll jobs only. These estimates are published the day after the main release.

Time series estimates

The estimates are presented as an original series only. Seasonally adjusted and trend estimates are not yet available. A number of years of data will be required before seasonal patterns can be observed and adjusted for.

The calendarisation and imputation methodologies applied to the estimates account for calendar related variations, such as the number of days in a month, and different payment frequencies.


The data underlying these estimates are revised for each release and reflected in percentage change movements and indexes. Please see Data limitations and revisions for more detail.

Privacy and confidentiality

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.

More information

For more information on this methodology please email labour.statistics@abs.gov.au

Methods review

As part of the transition of the Weekly Payroll Jobs and Wages series from a temporary COVID-19 product to an ongoing ABS output, the ABS are reviewing the methods and refreshing the data sources supporting these estimates. The ABS is currently investigating methods to improve the quality of payroll job and jobholder characteristics variables: Age; gender; industry; employment size; and geography. 

In the coming months, the ABS will be progressively implementing updated methods which may result in a refresh of existing characteristics values and the population of ‘unknown’ values.

A regular refresh of the data sources, which support the determination of characteristics variables in these estimates, will also be established to maintain the currency and relevance of these data. As updated methods are implemented, more information will be provided here or in How data are processed and Data limitations and revisions

Update of jobholder characteristics

Imputation update

Age derivation update

Data limitations and revisions

Weekly Payroll Jobs and Wages in Australia estimates are derived from data collected via the STP system, which effectively supports employer reporting obligations and ATO operational requirements through enabled software. However, it is not primarily designed to support the production of statistics and therefore some inherent limitations of the data require specific treatment and result in data revisions between statistical publications. 

The weekly change estimates for the most recent weeks of data contain a higher degree of reporting variability and imputation (described further below). The ABS recommends that users exercise caution when focusing on change in the most recent weeks, as these estimates are subject to a greater levels of revision in subsequent releases.

As the compilation of these estimates evolves, reporting patterns sometimes arise which require detailed analysis and treatment. Outcomes from these analyses may result in changes to methodology or revisions to data which will be updated here, as required.

Week on week revisions

Variation in revisions

Incorporating new employer reported data

Reporting variability


Data components, totals and index calculation

Hours worked, job attachment and employment status

Acknowledgement of source

Differences to labour force employment statistics

Weekly Payroll Jobs and Wages in Australia are experimental estimates, compiled in near real time and published fortnightly. This information provides a complementary insight to Labour Force statistics on employment, which provide a more comprehensive view of the Labour market. 

The differences in concepts, scope and methodology used to produce changes in employment (as reported in Labour Force statistics) and changes in payroll jobs can affect their interpretation as economic measures. The following key differences should be considered when comparing these statistics.

Weekly Payroll Jobs and Wages in AustraliaLabour Force statistics
Focus of the statisticsPayroll jobs.People.
Types of employment

Payroll jobs for which a payment was reported to the ATO through STP.

Owner managers of unincorporated enterprises;

Owner managers of incorporated enterprises where they are not paid through a STP reported payroll;

Contributing family workers where they are not paid through a STP reported payroll.

All employed people, including:
Employees (including Owner managers of incorporated enterprises);

Owner managers of unincorporated enterprises;

Contributing family workers.

Whether paidOnly includes payroll jobs for which a payment was reported to the ATO through STP or there is an established payment pattern.Includes all employed people who were paid or who had a job but weren't paid (on unpaid leave, temporarily stood down without pay, etc).
Multiple job holdingEach job is counted separately, irrespective of whether it is worked by a multiple jobholder.Around 6% of employed people are multiple jobholders, particularly young people.

Recently released Labour Force analysis of employment versus payroll jobs up to August 2020 can be found in Strong employment growth for non-employees. More information on the coherence of Weekly Payroll Jobs and Wages estimates with similar ABS statistics are detailed in the Coherence section of How data are processed

History of change

A timeline of recently implemented methodological changes are listed below for easy reference.

By release date


Show all


ABNAustralian Business Number
ABRAustralian Business Register
ANZSICAustralian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification
ASGSAustralian Statistical Geography Standard
ATOAustralian Taxation Office
FBTfringe benefits tax
NANot Available
ptsIndex points
SA3Statistical Area Level 3
SA4Statistical Area Level 4
STPSingle Touch Payroll
TFNTax File Number
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