These estimates are not seasonally adjusted. Seasonality can affect the interpretation of change in payroll jobs and wages, particularly between sub-annual periods. While annual comparisons can assist in understanding underlying change, they are less useful when events such as public holidays or pandemic lockdowns don't occur in the same week in both years.
In addition, when comparing the change in payroll jobs and wages between any two periods, interpretation can be complicated by variations in their composition. Payroll job indexes are compiled from over 11 million jobs and variations in the types of jobs reported can result in compositional change (which is not quantified). For example, each payroll job in each week:
- is counted in the same way regardless of job status (full-time, part-time or casual), hence variations in demand for casual staff can influence week-on-week change.
- represents an individual in every paid job reported via STP, hence jobholders working multiple jobs are counted more than once. While multiple jobholders account for less than 10% of all payroll jobs, they can increase the rate of change seen week-to-week (in some industries) in circumstances where they are unable to work in any of their jobs (e.g. due to illness) and are not paid when absent.
Wages can be more heavily influenced by week-to-week change in composition, as the wages index reflects movements in aggregate wages and salaries paid (unlike the ABS Wage Price Index which presents changes in the price of labour unaffected by compositional shifts in the labour force, hours worked or employee characteristics). Variability in wages indexes in this release in any given week may be due to:
- changes in hours worked,
- the inclusion of cyclical payments such as bonuses, commissions or lump sum payment of leave loading,
- payment of penalty rates for public holidays (which may not fall on the same date each year), or
- the inclusion of irregular payments such as overtime, ad hoc or one-off payments relating to employee recognition or enterprise agreement sign-on.
Compositional change can also differ at the industry or state and territory level, particularly when there are localised labour market issues.
Alternative period comparisons
The combination of seasonal effects and differences in composition can increase the volatility of week-on-week or month-on-month changes in these estimates. For these reasons, the ABS recommends using comparisons of the current month to the same month in the previous year, or 3 months prior, to understand any trends in the payroll jobs and wages estimates presented. These comparisons will likely reduce the impact of seasonal factors and compositional change, making trends easier to identify.
To learn more about the different labour measures available, their purpose and how to use them, see our Earnings guide.