Latest release

Labour Account Australia

The Australian Labour Account provides quarterly and annual time series for four quadrants: Jobs, People, Hours and Payments

Reference period
December 2021
Released
9/03/2022
  • Next Release 8/06/2022
    Labour Account Australia, March 2022
  • Next Release 14/09/2022
    Labour Account Australia, June 2022
  • Next Release 14/12/2022
    Labour Account Australia, September 2022
  • View all releases

Key statistics

In seasonally adjusted terms for the December quarter 2021:

  • Total jobs increased 529,900 (3.7%).
  • Filled jobs increased 472,300 (3.4%) to 14.5 million.
  • Multiple job holders increased 13.1%.
  • Secondary jobs increased 98,600 (11.5%).
  • Hours worked increased 4.3%.
  • Employed people increased 3.3% to 13.6 million.
 Seasonally Adjusted

Sep qtr 2021 to Dec qtr 2021
% change

Dec qtr 2020 to Dec qtr 2021
% change

Total Jobs 3.74.0
Filled Jobs3.43.1
Main Jobs2.82.7
Secondary Jobs11.58.4
Job Vacancies16.856.0
Hours Actually Worked4.32.2
Average Hours Actually Worked Per Job0.9-0.8
Average Income Per Employed Person-0.53.0

Data impacts and changes

Understanding differences in hours worked in the Labour Account and the Labour Force Survey

Quarterly information relating to hours worked across industries and the total economy is available from both the Labour Account and the monthly Labour Force Survey (LFS).

The Labour Account provides hours worked information, by industry, which is the most comprehensive in scope, best reflects the distribution of aggregate hours across industries and is the most coherent with other economic indicators such as National Accounts.

While the Labour Account and LFS releases present broadly similar aggregate information, there are some key differences in methods and scope which should be considered in comparing short-term growth rates across the two collections. The Labour Account:

  • redistributes aggregate hours worked from the LFS across industries to account for hours worked in secondary jobs. This is not able to be accounted for in LFS data, which classifies employed people (and hours worked) by industry of main job only.
  • includes estimates of hours worked by groups out of scope of the LFS, including permanent defence force personnel, child workers and employed short-term non-residents.
  • makes direct adjustments to hours worked where required to ensure coherence across Labour Account aggregates, although these are minimised as much as possible and generally have minimal impact on the total number of hours worked in a quarter.

There are also differences in the approach to seasonal adjustment, mostly associated with:

  • differences in periodicity (monthly vs quarterly seasonal adjustment);
  • how hours worked industry information is accounted for in months where it is not collected in the LFS; and
  • aggregation from industry-based hours worked data to derive an economy wide measure.

Given the ABS uses the most appropriate seasonal adjustment approach for each time series, there will be differences in short-term growth rates between Labour Account and LFS series.

These collective differences do not generally result in discernible variations in growth trajectories of hours worked in the total economy across the two collections. As recently seen across a range of labour statistics, the large movements in estimates associated with the pandemic have potentially exacerbated these differences in recent quarters. In particular, while both collections are currently using the forward factors method to undertake seasonal adjustment, the Labour Account derivation of these factors was undertaken more recently (with the September quarter 2021 release) than the LFS (with the April 2021 release).

While there is a stronger growth rate in seasonally adjusted hours worked in the Labour Account for the December quarter 2021 when compared to similar data from the LFS, through the year growth from December 2020 and the change in hours since June quarter 2021 are very similar.

Scope differences between the Labour Account and Labour Force Survey

The Labour Account is designed to complement the headline monthly Labour Force Survey (LFS) by providing measures of all employed people, and all jobs, in the Australian economy. It accounts for the following groups that are outside the scope of the LFS:

  • employed short-term non-residents
  • Australian defence force personnel
  • child workers (employed people under the age of 15)

Thus, the difference between the original estimates of employed persons from the LFS and the Labour Account is the combined estimated contribution for these three groups.

Over the COVID period, there have been large decreases in the number of short-term non-resident arrivals in Australia (see the September quarter 2021 release for information on changes made to the model to estimate the number of employed short-term non-residents). There have also been decreases in the number of children who are working (in line with overall reductions in employment around lockdowns and other restrictions). These reductions are not reflected in Labour Force employment estimates but are accounted for in Labour Account estimates.

Child workers (employed people under 15) tend to make the largest contribution to the scope adjustment (to the number of employed people and jobs), while Defence force personnel generally make the largest contribution to hours worked.

For the December quarter 2021, the scope adjustment in the Labour Account comprised:

  • child workers - around three-quarters (77%) of employed people and around a third (34%) of hours worked
  • Defence force personnel - close to a quarter (22%) of employed people and around two-thirds (65%) of hours worked
  • short-term non-resident workers - around 1% of employed people and 2% of hours worked

In comparison, for the March quarter 2020, which was prior to the impacts of COVID-19 on Labour Account estimates, the scope adjustment in the Labour Account comprised:

  • child workers - around three in five (62%) employed people, and around a quarter (24%) of hours worked
  • Defence force personnel - close to one in five (18%) employed people and close to half (48%) of hours worked
  • short-term non-resident workers – around one in five (21%) employed people and close to a third (30%) of hours worked

Note, there was a negative adjustment to hours worked from residents working for overseas organisations, hence the components above add to more than 100%.

Labour themes and navigation on the ABS website to change on 25 March 2022

As previously advised, the thematic groupings and navigation for labour statistics on the ABS website are being updated to better reflect the current range of available labour statistics, better align key labour market concepts with website themes and navigation, and improve discoverability. The new themes (and the statistical releases which will appear under each theme) can be viewed on our Beta website, at beta.abs.gov.au/statistics.html#labour.

The changes will be implemented on the ABS website on Friday 25 March 2022.

The new themes will be:

  • Employment and unemployment
  • Jobs
  • Earnings and working conditions
  • Labour Accounts

The Labour Account release will move from the 'Employment and unemployment' theme (abs.gov.au/statistics/labour/employment-and-unemployment/) to a new Labour Accounts theme (abs.gov.au/statistics/labour/labour-accounts/).

Other changes (from the current 'Employment and unemployment' and 'Earnings and work hours' themes) include:

  • addition of a 'Jobs' theme - to reflect the increasing range of jobs-related data ABS is releasing – including Weekly payroll jobs and wages and Jobs in Australia (currently in 'Earnings and work hours'), in addition to the longstanding statistics on Job vacancies and Job mobility (currently in 'Employment and unemployment').
  • renaming the 'Earnings and work hours' theme to 'Earnings and working conditions' - to provide a clearer pathway the large range of information available on working conditions beyond wages (work arrangements, flexibility, workplace relations, etc) and reflect that key hours data are available from the 'Employment and unemployment' theme (from the monthly Labour Force Survey) and the Labour Account.

While these changes will result in a change to the placement of some statistical releases, and some URLs, there will be automatic redirects in place. These redirects will ensure that existing URLs and bookmarks will continue to work.

Jobs

In seasonally adjusted terms for the December quarter 2021:

  • Filled jobs increased by 3.4%, following a 2.7% fall in the September quarter 2021. Filled jobs grew 3.1% through the year.
  • The number of main jobs increased by 373,700 (or 2.8%).
  • The number of multiple job holders increased by 13.1%.
  • The proportion of vacant jobs increased to 2.7%, from the 2.4% recorded in the September quarter 2021.
  • The number of public sector jobs increased by 3.7%, while the number of private sector jobs increased by 3.6%.

Total jobs

In seasonally adjusted terms for the December quarter 2021, the total number of jobs increased by 529,900 (or 3.7%), made up of a increase of 57,600 job vacancies and a increase of 472,300 filled jobs.

Filled jobs

In seasonally adjusted terms for the December quarter 2021, the number of filled jobs increased by 472,300 to 14.5 million. 

Filled jobs, by industry, Dec qtr 2021, seasonally adjusted
Filled jobs ('000)Proportion of total (all industries) (%)
Agriculture, forestry and fishing (A)453.93.1
Mining (B)197.31.4
Manufacturing (C)911.36.3
Electricity, gas, water and waste services (D)124.70.9
Construction (E)1,167.18.0
Wholesale trade (F)550.23.8
Retail trade (G)1,444.310.0
Accommodation and food services (H)1,177.08.1
Transport, postal and warehousing (I)661.74.6
Information media and telecommunications (J)178.61.2
Financial and insurance services (K)472.33.3
Rental, hiring and real estate services (L)290.52.0
Professional, scientific and technical services (M)1,208.98.3
Administrative and support services (N)1,032.17.1
Public administration and safety (O)763.75.3
Education and training (P)1,040.57.2
Health care and social assistance (Q)2,013.713.9
Arts and recreation services (R)270.21.9
Other services (S)550.93.8
Total all industries14,508.9100.0
Change in filled jobs, by industry, Dec qtr 2021, seasonally adjusted
Quarterly change (%)Annual change (%)
Agriculture, forestry and fishing (A)0.03.7
Mining (B)8.26.5
Manufacturing (C)6.04.9
Electricity, gas, water and waste services (D)2.91.1
Construction (E)-1.43.1
Wholesale trade (F)0.6-5.5
Retail trade (G)3.43.7
Accommodation and food services (H)16.17.7
Transport, postal and warehousing (I)3.45.6
Information media and telecommunications (J)0.4-4.6
Financial and insurance services (K)0.40.0
Rental, hiring and real estate services (L)2.35.6
Professional, scientific and technical services (M)4.43.5
Administrative and support services (N)2.36.8
Public administration and safety (O)0.90.1
Education and training (P)3.1-3.0
Health care and social assistance (Q)-0.11.4
Arts and recreation services (R)10.510.8
Other services (S)7.59.8
Total all industries3.43.1

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 people who have their main job in the same or a different industry. 

In seasonally adjusted terms for the December quarter 2021:

  • Secondary jobs increased by 98,600 (or 11.5%). 
  • The proportion of secondary jobs to filled jobs was 6.6% compared to 6.1% in the previous quarter.

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

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 925,600 jobs, or 6.3% of the household estimate, in the December quarter 2021.

While the business sources have been showing stronger jobs growth over the COVID period, this hasn't impacted on overall Labour Accounts aggregates as the Labour Account jobs estimates are constrained to the household side. This is because the Household side source, the monthly Labour Force Survey, provides the best measure of labour market activity. 

Balancing decisions for Rental, hiring and real estate services and Other services were mostly based on household survey sources. All other industries were mostly based on business survey sources.

People

In seasonally adjusted terms for the December quarter 2021:

  • The total number of employed people increased by 3.3% to 13.6 million. 
  • There were 569,100 unemployed people, a decrease of 51,900 people from September quarter 2021.
  • There were 1,024,800 underemployed people, a decrease of 200,000 people from September quarter 2021.

The Labour Account produces the number of people employed from an industry perspective. As a result, the sum of employed people for each industry division 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 people in the December quarter 2021 were Health care and social assistance, Retail trade and Professional, scientific and technical services.

Hours

In seasonally adjusted terms for the December quarter 2021, the total number of hours actually worked increased by 220.8 million hours (or 4.3%) to 5.4 billion hours.

The three industries with the highest number of hours actually worked in the December quarter 2021 were Health care and social assistance, Construction and Professional, scientific and technical services.

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

In seasonally adjusted terms for the December quarter 2021, average hours worked per job increased by 0.9% to 370 hours. 

Payments

The Labour Account Payments quadrant presents the costs incurred by enterprises in employing labour, and the income 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 December quarter 2021:

  • Total labour income increased by $7,598 million (or 2.7%) to $286,797 million. 
  • The average labour income per employed person decreased by 0.5% to $21,131.
  • Total compensation of employees increased by 2.0% to $257,413 million.
  • Labour income from self-employment increased by 9.4% to $29,384 million.
  • Total labour costs increased by $9,994 million (3.3%) to $308,450 million. 

The three industries with the highest total labour income in the December quarter 2021 were Health care and social assistance, Professional, scientific and technical services and Construction.

Data downloads

Changes to Excel file format

As foreshadowed in the September quarter release, the Labour Account timeseries spreadsheets are now released in .xlsx format. While this change will improve usability, it may also require changes to automated macros or similar programs that call on the previous .xls format. This change does not impact on previously released data.

Time series spreadsheets

Quarterly estimates for Jobs, People, Hours and Payments by Industry Division and Total All Industries.

Data files

Data Explorer datasets

Annual estimates for Jobs, People, Hours and Payments by Industry Subdivision, Division and Total All Industries.

Caution: Data in Data Explorer is currently released after the 11.30am release on the ABS Website. Please check the reference period when using Data Explorer.

Labour Account balanced - Balanced annual estimates for Jobs, People, Hours and Payments by Industry Subdivision, Division and Total All Industries.

Labour Account unbalanced - Unbalanced annual estimates for Jobs, People, Hours and Payments by Total All Industries.

For information on Data Explorer and how it works, see the Data explorer user guide.

Previous catalogue number

This release previously used catalogue number 6150.0.55.003.