Weekly Payroll Jobs and Wages in Australia methodology

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Reference period
Week ending 12 March 2022

How data are collected


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.

Scope and coverage

The scope and coverage of these estimates are 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 (OMUEs), which are more prevalent in the Construction and Agriculture, forestry and fishing industries. 

Employers with 20 or more employees (large employers) commenced transition to STP reporting on 1 July 2018. Employers with less than 20 employees (small employers) began transitioning to STP on 1 July 2019. Any reporting concessions that were made available for small employers ended on 30 June 2021. At the time of this release, almost all large employers and eligible small employers are reporting through STP.

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 residential geography 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 residential geography are not available from Client Register data, they are sourced from STP data. The ABS receives annual snapshots of de-identified Client Register data from the ATO, for use in the production of statistics.

Industry of activity, sector and employment size variables of the employing business are sourced from the ABS Business Register (ABSBR).  

Variables from the Client Register and the ABSBR are updated periodically on different timings. See the Updating characteristic variables section of How data are processed and the Methods review for more information.

How data are processed

To produce estimates from STP data, several processes and treatments are applied.


Accrual of end of financial year payments




Creation of indexes

Aggregate adjustments

Updating characteristic variables

Inclusion of unknown characteristics


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. 

Summary of outputs

Each release contains both payroll jobs and total wages indexes and percentage change movements. Estimates are available at the national, state and territory and Australian and New Zealand Standard Industry Classification (ANZSIC) division by selected jobholder and employer attributes. Australian Statistical Geography Standard sub-state regions (Statistical Area 4, Statistical Area 3 and Greater Capital City Statistical Area) and ANZSIC subdivision estimates are also updated in each release. 

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 are 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.

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

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.

Privacy and confidentiality

Legislative requirements to ensure privacy and secrecy of this data have been followed. Only those authorised under the Australian Bureau of Statistics Act 1975 have been allowed to view data about any particular firm in conducting these analyses. 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 email labour.statistics@abs.gov.au.

Methods review

Update of jobholder characteristics

Categorising payroll jobs by jobholder characteristics in close to real-time is challenging, as a key data source - the ATO Client Register - is only updated and available annually. For Weekly Payroll Jobs and Wages, jobholder characteristics are updated soon after this annual data source is available, with major changes to data reflecting changes identified at the end of the financial year.

In the 10 March 2022 release, jobholder characteristics were updated using a snapshot of the ATO Client Register that reflects characteristics as at mid-2021. In addition, some values related to the mid-2020 snapshot were also updated, based on more contemporary information for that period.

The update of jobholder characteristics enhances the quality of sex, age and residential geography (including sub-state) indexes - particularly where these characteristics were previously unknown. The sex characteristic saw the largest update, with approximately 190,000 payroll jobs with unknown sex in the week ending 3 July 2021 (around 1.7% of all payroll jobs) updated with a value.

Indexes were revised throughout the time series, although revisions were of greater magnitude from July 2020 forward. This is because the proportion of records with unknown jobholder characteristics increases from the end of the financial year until the next update. The ABS recommends that analyses using estimates published prior to the 10 March 2022 release be refreshed with updated data.

More information on characteristics updates is found in the Updating characteristics variables section in How data are processed.

Determining jobholder characteristics

Jobholder characteristics used in these estimates are sourced from the ATO Client Register and STP data. A limited set of characteristics are drawn directly from the STP data, which are received weekly, whereas most characteristics are based on (or, in time, replaced by) information from annual snapshots of the ATO Client Register.  

Since the last ATO Client Register snapshot, the number of payroll jobs with unknown or outdated characteristics has increased, particularly where the characteristic cannot be sourced from STP data (such as sex). As records with unknown characteristics are included in the calculation of index totals (for both payroll jobs and total wages) but are excluded from component indexes (such as males and females), the quality of detailed indexes can degrade over time. Therefore, regular updates of characteristics are important.

The effect of the increasing number of unknowns is particularly visible in the 15-19 year old age group by sex indexes, compared with the total index for 15-19 year olds. Over time, males and females turn 20 and move into the next age group, and new 15-19 year old jobholders (with unknown sex) cause the divergence in sex indexes. These jobholders are more likely to be new income tax registrants and hence missing from the previous snapshot (where their sex will be sourced).

Source: Weekly Payroll Jobs and Wages in Australia, Week ending 15 January 2022

The update of jobholder characteristics from the mid-2021 ATO Client Register snapshot removes most of this divergence through to mid-2021 and reduces the magnitude of the subsequent (and unavoidable) increasing divergence after that point.

Source: Weekly Payroll Jobs and Wages in Australia, Week ending 15 January 2022


The level of revision seen in jobholder characteristic component indexes differs in magnitude and across the time series within individual indexes. The impact of revisions is relative to the proportion of unknowns for those characteristics.

Source: Weekly Payroll Jobs and Wages in Australia, Week ending 15 January 2022

A relatively small proportion of jobholders have an unknown age and state/territory, which is consistent across the time series, given these characteristics are also available from STP data. However, as sex is only available from the ATO Client Register, sex indexes (along with SA4 and SA3 indexes) see the largest revisions from updates.

As each ATO Client Register snapshot reflects a historical point-in-time, proportions of unknown jobholder characteristics will increase gradually and will be greatest in the latest reference week of the time series.  

Further detail on unknown sub-state geography


Characteristics distribution estimates have also been revised throughout the time series as a result of the March update. Levels of revision vary based on the relative proportion of unknowns for each jobholder characteristic and may see greater variation across transition points.

Managing indexes across multiple ATO Client Register snapshots

Up until the 10 March 2022 release, jobholder characteristics across the entire time series were only sourced from the mid-2020 ATO Client Register snapshot, to reduce volatility from changing characteristics. However, as the time series extends, changes to jobholder characteristics (particularly residential address) from the annual ATO Client Register snapshots result in ‘transition points’. These appeared for the first time in the 10 March 2022 release and can be seen at the change of each financial year within the time series.

Client Register snapshots used within series
Client Register snapshotReference period startReference period end
Mid-2019Week ending 4 January 2020Week ending 27 June 2020
Mid-2020Week ending 4 July 2020Week ending 26 June 2021
Mid-2021Week ending 3 July 2021Present


The transition point for jobholder characteristics updates, derived from the ATO Client Register snapshots, is at the change in financial year as:

  • the STP reporting is financial year based, ensuring jobholder characteristics are held constant across each STP reporting year, and
  • the annual ATO Client Register snapshot is taken in July each year, aligning the update point to that of the snapshot.

Transition points may be particularly visible in some indexes, such as geography, where changes in residential addresses from across a year will currently all be reflected at a single point. The ABS is currently developing a smoothing method to remove the visible transition between multiple ATO Client Register snapshots, particularly to improve the longer time series comparability of state/territory, GCCSA, SA4 and SA3 indexes.

Source: Weekly Payroll Jobs and Wages in Australia, Week ending 15 January 2022

Given the above limitations, revisions vary depending on the level of migration between different geographic areas. The transitions are more visible in the smallest states and territories of Tasmania, Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory, and some caution should be exercised in comparing changes across financial years.

While the 10 March 2022 update did not change employer characteristics (industry, sector or employment size), component indexes of jobholder characteristics may see revisions from the update (for example, state by industry indexes). For example, the Australia - Mining index shows minimal revision at the mid-2021 ATO Client Register snapshot transition point (week ending 3 July 2021) however revisions are visible in some state level indexes for this industry, as this reflects updates to the residential geography of jobholders in the industry, effectively redistributing some jobs and wages across states and territories.

Source: Weekly Payroll Jobs and Wages in Australia, Week ending 15 January 2022

Update to mid-2020 ATO Client Register snapshot

The update in the 10 March 2022 release also included a refresh to some values for the mid-2020 ATO Client Register snapshot. These updates reflected refinements to the process used to determine the most appropriate residential geography for each jobholder in the mid-2020 snapshot and therefore primarily affect state and sub-state indexes.


Data variability 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.

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.

Payroll jobs and wages estimates (including percentage change movements and indexes) are revised in each release across the time series. Revisions primarily relate to the receipt of more complete STP data over time and have the greatest impact on the most recently reported information. Over time, as more employer-reported data is received, the size of revisions usually decreases. Users should therefore exercise caution when focusing on change in the most recent weeks of data, as this period sees greater levels of revision in subsequent releases. 

Aside from more complete reporting there are other factors which can influence the size, timing, duration and specificity of revisions.


Reporting variability

Revisions in sub-populations


Acknowledgement of source

These estimates are based on 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.

Differences to labour force employment statistics

The Weekly Payroll Jobs and Wages in Australia estimates are a complementary insight to Labour Force statistics on employment and unemployment, which provide a longstanding and comprehensive view of the Labour market. 

The two releases generally show similar national movement in jobs and employment over time, however at the state/territory and industry levels, the changes can be more pronounced. The differences in concepts, scope and methodology used to produce these statistics can affect their interpretation as economic measures. Some factors that explain differences at the state/territory and industry levels include:

  • Real world factors - scope of STP reporting, multiple jobholding and seasonality, and
  • Measurement factors - variability in sampling, reporting and classification. 

The following key differences should be considered when comparing these statistics:

Weekly Payroll Jobs and Wages in AustraliaLabour Force statistics
Focus of the statisticsJobs.People.

Around 10 million payroll jobs for which a payment was reported to the ATO through STP.(a)

Almost all large employers (with 20 or more employees) and eligible small employers are reporting through STP.

Coverage increased steadily from January 2020 to July 2021 as employers started reporting through STP.

All usually resident civilian people aged 15 and over (around 21 million people, of whom 13 million are employed).

Statistics are based on a large survey sample of around 50,000 people responding every month.


Revised every release as payroll periods are completed (with imputed data replaced with actual data when received). This ensures comparability over time.

Revisions to jobholder and employer characteristics from periodic updates.(b)

Small revisions every 3 months, aligned with new population statistics.
Types of employment

Employee jobs who are paid through a STP-reported payroll.

Also includes a small number of jobs for non-employees who are paid through STP-reported payrolls.

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

Owner managers of unincorporated enterprises;

Contributing family workers.

Whether paidOnly includes payroll jobs where 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 holding

Each job is counted separately, irrespective of whether it is worked by a multiple jobholder. People who work multiple jobs may be counted multiple times.

Industry is identified for each job, not just the main job and the level of multiple jobholding can vary between industries.

Each person is only counted once, and job characteristics (other than hours) relate to a person's main job.

Around 6% of employed people are multiple jobholders, particularly young people.

LocationResidence of the jobholder, based on address held by the ATO.Place of usual residence of people at the time of the survey.
Time seriesOriginal index series. No seasonally adjusted or trend series are available yet.Original and seasonally adjusted (trend is currently suspended, during the COVID-19 period).
  1. A compositional breakdown of payroll jobs can be found inDistribution of jobholder and employer characteristics.
  2. The update of jobholder and employer characteristics can be found in How data are processed.

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 differences between Weekly Payroll Jobs and Wages estimates and 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
GCCSAGreater Capital City Statistical Area
NANot Available
ptsIndex points
SA3Statistical Area Level 3
SA4Statistical Area Level 4
STPSingle Touch Payroll
TFNTax File Number
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