Latest release

Labour Account Australia

The Australian Labour Account provides quarterly and annual time series data, consisting of four quadrants: Jobs, Persons, Hours and Payments

Reference period
June 2020
Released
9/09/2020
Future releases
  • Next Release 9/12/2020
    Labour Account Australia, September 2020
  • Next Release 10/03/2021
    Labour Account Australia, December 2020
  • View all releases

Key statistics

​​​​​In seasonally adjusted terms for the June quarter 2020:

  • The total number of jobs decreased by 1,028,400 (or 7.0%).
  • Secondary jobs fell by 193,400 (or 19.6%), while the number of multiple job holders decreased by 22.7%.
  • The total number of hours actually worked decreased by 527.3 million hours (or 9.8%).
  • The total number of employed persons decreased by 5.4% to 12.8 million. 
 Seasonally Adjusted
Mar qtr 2020 to Jun qtr 2020
% change
Jun qtr 2019 to Jun qtr 2020
% change
Filled Jobs-6.4-5.2
Main Job-5.5-4.6
Secondary Job-19.6-13.3
Job Vacancies-42.1-43.3
Hours Actually Worked-9.8-9.4
Average Hours Actually Worked Per Job-3.6-4.4
Average Income Per Employed Person5.16.9

Data impacts and changes

Managing the impact of COVID-19

The ABS has undertaken analysis into the impacts from COVID-19 on the key aggregates from the Australian Labour Account in the June quarter 2020. Current movements are presented with previous June quarter movements, along with information on managing the impact of COVID-19 on the Labour Account, and elements in the data that users should pay particular attention to as the ABS continues to undertake additional analysis and development work. See the Assessing the impact of COVID-19 on the Labour Account section for more information.

The ABS is also monitoring and managing the data collection impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic on key inputs into the Labour Account. There was no notable impact on any of these data collection activities for the June 2020 quarter.

Revisions

Data in the four quadrants of the Labour Account, both quarterly and annual, have been revised from the previously published estimates.

Revisions may be attributable to a range of factors, including:

  • Revisions to quarterly source data, including:

                              i.   revisions to data from the Labour Force Survey,

                              ii.   revisions to Overseas Arrivals and Departures data,

                             iii.   revisions to data from the quarterly Australian National Accounts, and

  • Seasonal factors for quarterly seasonally adjusted and trend data have been refined, with the seasonal adjustment method changed from concurrent seasonal adjustment to the forward factors method.

To see the impact of these updates, refer to Table 22. Quarterly Revisions.

Jobs

In seasonally adjusted terms for the June quarter 2020:

  • Filled jobs decreased by 6.4%, following a 0.1% fall in the March quarter 2020. Filled jobs fell 5.2% through the year.
  • The number of main jobs fell by 739,000 (or 5.5%).
  • The number of multiple job holders decreased by 22.7%.
  • The proportion of vacant jobs (PVJ) decreased to 1.0%, following a recent high of 1.6% in the December quarter 2019.
  • The number of public sector jobs decreased by 1.9%, while the number of private sector jobs decreased by 7.1%.

Total Jobs

In seasonally adjusted terms for the June quarter 2020:

  • The total number of jobs decreased by 1,028,400 (or 7.0%), made up of a decrease of 96,000 job vacancies and a decrease of 932,400 filled jobs.
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Filled jobs

In seasonally adjusted terms for the June quarter 2020:

  • The number of filled jobs decreased by 932,400 to 13.6 million. 
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Labour Account filled jobs, proportion by industry June quarter 2020

 Labour Account Filled Jobs
June qtr 2020
('000)
Proportion of Total All Industries
June qtr 2020
(%)
Agriculture, forestry and fishing (A)467.63.4
Mining (B)183.91.4
Manufacturing (C)873.46.4
Electricity, gas, water and waste services (D)119.00.9
Construction (E)1,132.88.4
Wholesale trade (F)563.04.2
Retail trade (G)1,301.89.6
Accommodation and food services (H)934.96.9
Transport, postal and warehousing (I)632.34.7
Information media and telecommunications (J)162.11.2
Financial and insurance services (K)482.23.6
Rental, hiring and real estate services (L)293.22.2
Professional, scientific and technical services (M)1,229.59.1
Administrative and support services (N)801.35.9
Public administration and safety (O)771.95.7
Education and training (P)1,046.87.7
Health care and social assistance (Q)1,902.414.0
Arts and recreation services (R)170.51.3
Other services (S)489.83.6
Total All Industries13,558.4100.0
 

Labour Account filled jobs, percentage change by industry, June quarter 2020

  Seasonally Adjusted
Mar qtr 2020 to Jun qtr 2020
% change
Jun qtr 2019 to Jun qtr 2020
% change
Agriculture, forestry and fishing (A)-0.5-0.2
Mining (B)-4.0-3.3
Manufacturing (C)-6.1-2.4
Electricity, gas water and waste services (D)-2.9-2.2
Construction (E)-6.2-0.9
Wholesale trade (F)-7.1-2.5
Retail trade (G)-7.5-9.0
Accommodation and food services (H)-15.3-16.8
Transport, postal and warehousing (I)-8.8-8.2
Information media and telecommunications (J)-5.6-10.3
Financial and insurance services (K)1.97.2
Rental, hiring and real estate services (L)-0.3-0.3
Professional, scientific and technical services (M)-4.20.1
Administrative and support services (N)-12.0-12.5
Public administration and safety (O)-2.00.0
Education and training (P)-6.8-7.7
Health care and social assistance (Q)-2.82.3
Arts and recreation services (R)-19.1-31.0
Other services (S)-10.6-15.7
Total All Industries-6.4-5.2
 

Secondary jobs

Secondary jobs are where a person is working more than one job at the same time, and may consist of one or more additional jobs. These jobs can be held by persons who have their main job in the same or a different industry. 

In seasonally adjusted terms for the June quarter 2020:

  • Secondary jobs fell by 193,400 (or 19.6%). 
  • The proportion of secondary jobs to filled jobs was 5.8% compared to 6.8% in the previous quarter.

The three industries with the highest number of secondary jobs were Administrative and support services, Health care and social assistance and Education and training.
 

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Statistical discrepancy - Filled jobs

The Labour Account compiles independent estimates of the number of filled jobs from both a household and business perspective. The difference between these two estimates is referred to as the "statistical discrepancy". This discrepancy is reduced to zero through the balancing processes of the Labour Account, through producing a single harmonised or "balanced" number of filled jobs for each industry and the total economy.

In original terms the discrepancy between household sources and business sources was 228,700 jobs, or 1.7% of the household estimate, in the June quarter 2020.

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Balancing decisions for Agriculture, forestry and fishing; Mining; Manufacturing; Electricity, gas, water and waste services; Construction; Wholesale trade; Retail trade; Accommodation and food services; Transport, postal and warehousing; Information media and telecommunications; Financial and insurance services; Professional, scientific and technical services; Administrative and support services; Public administration and safety; Education and training; Health care and social assistance; Arts and recreation services were mostly business survey sources. Balancing decisions for Rental, hiring and real estate services and Other services were mostly household survey sources.

Persons

In seasonally adjusted terms for the June quarter 2020:

  • The total number of employed persons decreased by 5.4% to 12.8 million. 
  • There were 991,500 unemployed persons, an increase of 280,200 persons from March quarter 2020.
  • There were 1,698,200 underemployed persons, an increase of 534,000 persons from March quarter 2020.
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The Australian Labour Account produces the number of people employed from an industry perspective. As a result, the sum of employed persons in the Australian Labour Account across industry divisions does not equal the total number of people employed in the whole economy, given some people are employed in multiple industries.

The three industries with the highest number of employed persons in the June quarter 2020 were Health care and social assistance, Retail trade and Professional, scientific and technical services.

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Hours

Hours actually worked is the time spent in a job for the performance of activities that contribute to the production of goods and services during a specified short or long reference period.

In seasonally adjusted terms for the June quarter 2020:

  • The total number of hours actually worked decreased by 527.3 million hours (or 9.8%) to 4.9 billion hours.
  • The total number of hours paid decreased 10.1% to 5.3 billion hours.
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The three industries with the highest number of hours actually worked in the June quarter 2020 were Health care and social assistance, Professional, scientific and technical services and Construction.

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Average hours worked per job is the hours actually worked divided by all filled jobs.

In seasonally adjusted terms for the June quarter 2020:

  • Average hours worked per job decreased by 3.6% to 359 hours. 
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Payments

The Labour Account Payments quadrant presents the costs incurred by enterprises in employing labour, and the incomes received by people from its provision. Total income consists of compensation of employees and labour income from self-employment. The addition of other related costs to employers to total income will derive total labour costs.

In seasonally adjusted terms for the June quarter 2020:

  • Total labour income decreased by $1,657 million (or 0.6%) to $258,913 million. 
  • The average labour income per employed person increased by 5.1% to $20,259.
  • Total compensation of employees decreased by 2.3% to $233,646 million
  • Labour income from self-employment increased by 17.9% to $25,267 million.


The three industries with the highest total labour income in the June quarter 2020 were Health care and social assistance, Professional, scientific and technical services and Construction.

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Assessing the impact of COVID-19 on the Labour Account

Strengths of the Labour Account in measuring the labour market impacts of COVID-19

The Australian Labour Account has been developed to provide a framework for integrating data from a number of sources (including household surveys, business surveys, and administrative data). By confronting a range of indicators, the Labour Account provides a suite of highly consistent estimates of key labour market variables. While not as timely or detailed as the source data, such as the Labour Force Survey, it provides the best holistic information on the impacts of COVID-19 on the labour market.

The Labour Account can help users make sense of existing labour market data from diverse sources, with the aim of producing a coherent and consistent set of aggregate labour market statistics. Differences in data sources are magnified when data are disaggregated by industry or sector, or in analysis requiring the combination of data from both business and household sources (for example, when combining output and hours worked by industry to derive industry productivity growth rates).

The Labour Account helps address data coherence by:

  • bringing together related labour statistics from multiple sources in a single set of tables;
  • applying a consistent set of concepts across the data to explore statistical anomalies;
  • making transparent adjustments to data to offset conceptual and scope differences; and
  • making further informed and documented data adjustments to provide a balanced set of labour statistics.

The Labour Account consists of four quadrant tables: jobs, persons, volume and payments. The Labour Account is able to combine data from the jobs, persons, volume and payments tables to calculate average hours worked, average remuneration (per person and per job), and average labour costs per job.

Traditionally, the Labour Force Survey has been the primary source of information on employment by industry over time. However, industry information is not what the Labour Force Survey is primarily designed to measure, which is the labour force status of the population (that is, whether people are employed, unemployed or not in labour force) and their key demographics.

The ABS considers the Labour Account to be the best source of headline information on employment by industry and sector. While less timely than data available from the Labour Force Survey, the Labour Account has been specifically designed to produce the most comprehensive estimates for industries in Australia, drawing upon a broad range of data sources. It provides an estimate of the number of jobs, hours worked, and associated labour income that align very well with industry measures of output in the economy. In the future, it is expected to lead to improvements in the measurement of productivity, as Labour Account estimates are more consistent with concepts of production and residency which underpin estimates from the National Accounts.

The comparative strength of the industry information in the Labour Account is that it is generally drawn from how businesses have been officially categorised, rather than how employed people (most of whom are employees) describe the business they work in. The Labour Account shows that there are a number of people in the labour market who, when responding to the Labour Force Survey, will describe the business activities that are most relevant to their job, rather than the actual industry of the business that pays their wages or salary.

A summary of the COVID-19 impacts on key measures in each of the four quadrant tables (jobs, persons, volume and payments) is provided below. Movements for the current quarter are compared to those of June quarters in previous years, highlighting divergences from historical patterns.

Seasonal adjustment and trend estimation

Analysis of seasonally adjusted estimates for June quarter 2020 identified significant data outliers and changes to seasonal patterns in published Labour Account data, including some large seasonally adjusted movements for industries substantially impacted by COVID-19 like Accommodation and food services and Arts and recreation services.

As a result, and consistent with a range of other ABS statistics, the seasonal adjustment method used in the Labour Account was changed from concurrent seasonal adjustment to forward factors seasonal adjustment, commencing with the June quarter 2020. All trend series were also suspended from published Labour Accounts data.

Labour Account seasonally adjusted estimates may differ slightly from similar series in other collections, due to minor differences in seasonal adjustment processes or slightly different time series characteristics

The ABS will continue to evaluate the effectiveness of its seasonal adjustment methods and will provide additional information in future releases.

Hours

During times of a significant shock to the economy and the labour market, an earlier and larger impact is usually seen first in hours worked, compared to jobs and employment.

In original terms, hours worked decreased by 9.8% in the June quarter 2020. As can be seen from Graph 1, this was significantly weaker than the June quarter average movement for the 10 years prior to 2020, an increase of 0.5%. In seasonally adjusted terms, hours worked decreased by 9.8% in the June quarter 2020.

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Update to the adjustment to hours worked for March quarter 2020

To account for the change in hours worked during the last week of March, which occurred outside of the Labour Force Survey reference period, an adjustment was applied to the quarterly Labour Account and National Accounts hours worked measures for the March quarter 2020. Information on this adjustment was included in the release of the March quarter 2020 Labour Account.

This adjustment was recalculated with the June quarter 2020 Labour Account, given hours worked from the Labour Force Survey were rebenchmarked with the July 2020 issue. This rebenchmarking of source data, and the associated revisions to seasonally adjusted Labour Force Survey hours worked, did not significantly change the magnitude of the adjustment for the March quarter 2020.

Jobs

The quarterly movement for filled jobs (that is, jobs with a person in them) in the June quarter 2020 was a decrease of 6.1% in original terms. This compared with an average movement for the June quarter over the prior 10 years of 0.5%. In seasonally adjusted terms, filled jobs decreased by 6.4% in the June quarter 2020.

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Statistical discrepancy during COVID-19

A significant change in the size of the statistical discrepancy over a short time frame can indicate a change in the level of coherence between business and household based data sources. The absolute size of the statistical discrepancy was similar to recent quarters (1.7% of the household estimate in June quarter 2020, compared with 2.2% in the March quarter 2020), though the business side estimate was larger than the household estimate for the first time since September 2014.

Persons

The Labour Account estimates in the persons quadrant are underpinned by data from the Labour Force Survey, which showed major changes in employment, unemployment and underemployment through June quarter 2020.

The average movement in original terms for employed persons in the June quarter in the Labour Account for the 10 years prior to 2020 was an increase of 0.5%. In contrast, the June quarter 2020 saw a decrease of 5.2%. In seasonally adjusted terms, employed persons decreased by 5.4% in the June quarter 2020.

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The June quarter 2020 increase in unemployed persons of 26.2% in original terms compared to an average decrease of 9.1% in the June quarter in the 10 years prior to 2020. In seasonally adjusted terms, unemployed persons increased by 39.4% in the March quarter 2020.

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The average movement in original terms in underemployed persons in the June quarter in the Labour Account for the 10 years prior to 2020 was a decrease of 0.9%, compared with a June quarter 2020 increase of 46.3%. In seasonally adjusted terms, underemployed persons increased by 45.9% in the June quarter 2020.

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Payments

On 30 March 2020, the Australian Government announced that the JobKeeper program would support eligible employers and employees to maintain job attachment and earnings through a wage subsidy. Payments are being made to eligible employers who in turn pay their eligible employees through existing payroll arrangements, and are included in the estimates of compensation of employees. This treatment of JobKeeper payments in economic statistics was detailed in an article released in May.

The average movement in original terms for compensation of employees in the June quarter in the Labour Account for the 10 years prior to 2020 was an increase of 5.9%. The June quarter 2020 increase of 2.2% was lower than this longer term average.

In seasonally adjusted terms, compensation of employees decreased by 2.3% in the June quarter 2020.

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Assessing data limitations during COVID-19

The Labour Account is made up of a variety of data sources that comprise the Labour Account Framework. The decision about each data source was made based on the quality and accuracy of the data when the Labour Account Framework was first established in 2017, and no changes to the use of data sources have been required over recent years.

However, the extent of change in the labour market during the COVID-19 period has highlighted some inherent limitations in the use of some data sources in the Labour Account.

Data users should pay particular attention to the following elements of the data, which the ABS is continuing to undertake additional analysis and development work on:

1. Accounting for the secondary jobs of multiple job holders. This has been based on information from the Linked Employer Employee Dataset (LEED) to determine the industry allocation of multiple job holders. Information from the LEED is currently based on data from 2016-17, and may not fully reflect the extent of change in industry distribution which has occurred as a result of COVID-19. The ABS is investigating whether information from the Single Touch Payroll can provide more contemporary and sufficiently comprehensive information, without causing significant disruption to the time series.

2. Accounting for non-residents who are in Australia on a short term basis. This has been based on a combination of Net Overseas Migration and Overseas Arrivals and Departures information, to measure the non-residents who have been in Australia for less than 12 months. These people are out of the scope of the Estimated Resident Population and Labour Force statistics, but are included in the Labour Account (given their production is included in the National Accounts). The Labour Account estimates the number of people based on the flows of people into and out of Australia from the most recent four quarters of Overseas Arrivals and Departures, considered against changes in Net Overseas Migration (which is used to determine changes in the Estimated Resident Population). While the June quarter saw a large reduction in arrivals and departures, as a result of the impact of COVID-19, the relatively short time period meant that an adjustment to the method was not required. This will be reviewed further for future quarters.

In addition to modelling the size of the non-resident short term population, the Labour Account also models their employment, jobs and hours. The ABS will continue to monitor the assumptions underpinning the model, such as the employment-to-population ratio of the population, compared to other groups (especially recent migrants from similar age cohorts). Given the relatively small size of the population, contemporary survey estimates covering the COVID-19 period are subject to relatively high sampling variability and are being used with caution in the model.

3. Reviewing the treatment of employment subsidies in total labour costs. The ABS is currently reviewing the historical conceptual treatment of employment subsidies in ‘other related costs to employers’ in the payments quadrant of the Labour Account, with the outcome to be communicated in the September quarter 2020 release. In the meantime, the ABS has not published labour cost measures in the June quarter 2020 release. Within the Australian conceptual framework for measures of employee remuneration, employment subsidies are considered to be a negative cost to employers, as an offset to the compensation of employees. JobKeeper payments in the National Accounts are included as an ‘other subsidy on production’ for the employer, with subsequent payments by employers to employees included within the compensation of employees. JobKeeper supported wages and salaries have been included within the Labour Account compensation of employees measures, in the payments quadrant.

Further information on the data sources and methods used in the Labour Account, see the Concepts Sources and Methods.

For further information on the Labour Account, email labour.statistics@abs.gov.au.

Data downloads

Table 1. Total all industries - trend, seasonally adjusted and original

Table 2. Agriculture, forestry and fishing (A) - trend, seasonally adjusted and original

Table 3. Mining (B) - trend, seasonally adjusted and original

Table 4. Manufacturing (C) - trend, seasonally adjusted and original

Table 5. Electricity, gas, water and waste services (D) - trend, seasonally adjusted and original

Table 6. Construction (E) - trend, seasonally adjusted and original

Table 7. Wholesale trade (F) - trend, seasonally adjusted and original

Table 8. Retail trade (G) - trend, seasonally adjusted and original

Table 9. Accommodation and food services (H) - trend, seasonally adjusted and original

Table 10. Transport, postal and warehousing (I) - trend, seasonally adjusted and original

Table 11. Information media and telecommunications (J) - trend, seasonally adjusted and original

Table 12. Financial and insurance services (K) - trend, seasonally adjusted and original

Table 13. Rental, hiring and real estate services (L) - trend, seasonally adjusted and original

Table 14. Professional, scientific and technical services (M) - trend, seasonally adjusted and original

Table 15. Administrative and support services (N) - trend, seasonally adjusted and original

Table 16. Public administration and safety (O) - trend, seasonally adjusted and original

Table 17. Education and training (P) - trend, seasonally adjusted and original

Table 18. Health care and social assistance (Q) - trend, seasonally adjusted and original

Table 19. Arts and recreation services (R) - trend, seasonally adjusted and original

Table 20. Other services (S) - trend, seasonally adjusted and original

Table 21. Unbalanced: total all industries - original

Table 22. Quarterly revisions

All data cubes

Previous catalogue number

This release previously used catalogue number 6150.0.55.003.

History of changes

  • 4/11/2020 - Annual data has been added to this release. The annual data can be accessed as ABS.Stat datasets in the Data downloads section. These files contain data from 1994-95 through to 2019-20.
  • 4/11/2020 - The following changes have been made to the June quarter 2020 release:
    • Improvements made to the layout for ease of use.
    • Data corrected in three graphs - Average quarterly hours worked per job, Total jobs by industry, and Secondary jobs by industry.
    • Amendments made to correct unit labels on two graphs - Average hours actually worked per job by industry and Total labour income by industry.