Payroll jobs recovered
Payroll jobs have recovered their pandemic losses. Photo – Canva.
  • Employment rose 0.2% over the past month, and is back above pre-pandemic levels
  • Rental, hiring and real estate services jobs are still down 3.3% on last year
  • Accommodation and food services are the most impacted, with 11.1% fewer jobs

This time a year ago, late March 2020, we had all entered lockdown and seemed to be peering over a precipice.

Over the following month, the number of payroll jobs fell 8.5%, according to data from the ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics).

In one month.

Payroll jobs data provides a weekly view of the employment market across the country, one important pulse of the economy, that also drives the property market.

While this was happening, live in-person real estate auctions and home opens were abandoned. Schools were closed. Everything seemed to stop.

From that point on – mid-April 2020 – things slowly improved, bar a few localised issues in Melbourne and elsewhere.

“The data … showed a steady recovery in payroll jobs until it slowed in mid-July 2020 and we saw second wave impacts in Victoria,” said Bjorn Jarvis, head of Labour Statistics at the ABS.

Back to the present time, and by mid-March 2021, weekly ABS labour market data saw that most states and territories had reached or even surpassed employment levels of a year ago.

“After a seasonal peak and fall across the summer months, payroll jobs at mid-March 2021 [are] slightly above the levels of a year earlier,” said Mr Jarvis.

Tasmania and Victoria are the only exceptions, although they are just 1.1% and 0.7% below those pre-pandemic payroll job numbers.

In the most recent period (27 February to 13 March 2021), Western Australia and Northern Territory saw payroll jobs grow 0.7%, pushing up the national total by 0.2% overall.

The largest pay increases were also in WA (+2.7%), and mining (+11.1%).

Annual change in payroll jobs by industry, mid-Mar 2020 to mid-Mar 2021

ABS payroll jobs
Source: ABS

Rental, hiring and real estate services jobs are still down 3.3% on last year, but were not the hardest hit.

“In mid-April 2020, the most impacted industries were accommodation and food services and arts and recreation services, with a combined fall in payroll jobs of almost 35 per cent,” Mr Jarvis said.

“By mid-March 2021, payroll jobs in arts and recreation services had almost fully recovered (down 0.7 per cent). By comparison, accommodation and food services remained the most impacted industry, with payroll jobs 11.1 per cent lower than a year ago.”

Bjorn Jarvis, head of Labour Statistics, ABS

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Source: Weekly Payroll Jobs and Wages in Australia, ABS, March 2021

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