Additional ABS products to help measure the economic impact of the coronavirus

The economic implications of the spread of the coronavirus, COVID-19, are highly uncertain. In these circumstances, there are sizeable benefits for the community and governments to have access to information about the economic responses of individuals and businesses that is as up-to-date as possible.

The ABS has considered what additional, more up-to-date information it can provide, over and above the existing statistical releases, to enhance understanding of the economic impacts of the coronavirus.

The following additional information will be published:

Preliminary retail turnover data: A preliminary retail turnover estimate will be published two weeks after the end of each month. The first release, on 18 March, will provide the preliminary estimate for Australian retail turnover for the month of February. This estimate will be subject to revision with the final monthly estimate published two weeks later in Retail Trade, Australia (Cat no 8501.0).

Additional information on business impacts: A new short survey, with data collected from today, for the next two weeks, will provide an assessment of the actual and expected impacts of the coronavirus on businesses. This survey will be repeated monthly, with the first results published in mid April.

Additional analysis of short term overseas visitors and international students: From 16 March, additional analysis of short term visitor arrivals to Australia and, for each state and territory, the flow of international students will be published monthly in Overseas, Arrivals and Departures (cat. no. 3401.0).

Additional monthly and quarterly hours worked information: From 26 March, the Labour Force, Australia, Detailed – Electronic Delivery (cat. no. 6291.0.55.001), will include additional monthly analysis on hours worked, including reasons for working less hours, and quarterly analysis by industry.

Interactive employment maps. On 18 March, interactive employment maps will be published to support a regional assessment of potential impacts of the coronavirus on employment. These maps will include age, industry and employment dimensions, and be based on underlying data from Jobs in Australia (cat. no. 6160.0).

In addition to providing additional information, the ABS is prioritising the health, safety and wellbeing of our staff, as well as households and businesses providing information to the ABS. The ABS is using the latest official advice to inform measures to help ensure the safety of our staff and the public.

Most of our surveys can be completed online or by phone, reducing the need for face-to-face interviews. We encourage households and businesses to take advantage of these options to continue to complete their surveys as all information is of heightened value to governments and community decision makers at this time. If you have any concerns, please contact the ABS (1300 135 070).

Any impacts of these changes on the quality of ABS statistics will be explained in the relevant statistical releases.

As events unfold over coming months, the ABS will assess the evolving implications of the coronavirus and refine our approach as necessary.

Dr David Gruen
Australian Statistician
16 March, 2020