Payroll Jobs Index and the second wave of restrictions in Victoria

App: Payroll Jobs and Wages Index

Visit our Payroll Jobs and Wages Index App and build customised visualisations here: Link

Data: ABS - 6160.0.55.001 - Weekly Payroll Jobs and Wages in Australia

One of the key data sources to monitor the current dynamics of unemployment in Australia is the Payroll Jobs Index. It is collected on a weekly basis and released fortnightly. The only key issue is that you need to well understand what is included in this data and what it represents to be able to make sense of it.

According to ABS: “The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) receives payroll information from businesses with Single Touch Payroll (STP) enabled payroll and accounting software each time the business runs its payroll. The ATO provides selected business and job level data items from the STP system to the ABS for the production of statistics.”

“A payroll job is a relationship between an employee and their employing enterprise, where the employee is paid in the reference week through STP-enabled payroll or accounting software and reported to the ATO. Where an employee is paid other than weekly, the established payment pattern is used to include jobs paid in weeks outside the reference week.”

“Employers with 20 or more employees (large employers) commenced transition to STP reporting on 1 July 2018, with approximately 99% of large employers reporting through STP at the time of this release. Employers with less than 20 employees (small employers) began transitioning to STP on 1 July 2019. As such at the beginning of June 2020, approximately 86% of small employers are reporting through STP.”

Read more about the data here: Link

How to read the index?

Estimates are supplied as indexes to provide an indication of movements (rather than level estimates) during the COVID-19 period. In order to compare changes over time, the week Australia recorded its 100th confirmed coronavirus case (i.e. week ending 14th March 2020) is used as the reference period for constructing the indexes and given an index value of 100.0. To make the plots more readable, we have then converted the value of 100 to zero so the changes in unemployment appear as a percentage change in the plots.


Now let’s focus on Victoria and especially the second wave. Here, I have looked into the change in the jobs index between the start of the second wave of Covid-19 in Victoria and the latest datapoint in this article on Aug 22nd. As the plot shows, the impact of restrictions in Victoria has been much larger among younger (under 30) and older (above 60) workers, however, the difference by gender is relatively small.

The next figure shows the impact across different industries. While there have been major adverse impacts in some areas such as accommodation and food, large and medium size firms across some other sectors showed resilience in August.

Understanding and monitoring the employmeny trends for Victoria is going to be critical to design appropriate policy responses to support the state economy and benchamrking against other states and territories can help better forecast and plan for the path to recovery.