ABS head of labour statistics, Bjorn Jarvis. Source: Bjorn Jarvis/Twitter
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  • The latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) shows a dip in payroll jobs in the fortnight to December 18, 2021 — just before the rapid spread of the Omicron variant
  • This bucks the trend for payroll jobs, with the first half of December typically marking a seasonal peak for jobs each year, followed by a seasonal fall around the summer holidays
  • The education and training industry accounted for over a third of the total fall at 38.2 per cent, while the arts and recreation industry was one of only four to rise during this period
  • Alongside the payroll jobs data, the ABS released the latest stats for average earnings for May 2021 based on a string of factors
  • The ABS is yet to release the figures for the period covering the beginning of the Omicron outbreak

The latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) shows a dip in payroll jobs in the fortnight to December 18, 2021 — just before the rapid spread of the Omicron variant.

This bucks the trend for payroll jobs, according to ABS Head of Labour Statistics Bjorn Jarvis, with the first half of December typically marking a seasonal peak for jobs each year, followed by a seasonal fall around the summer holidays.

“In 2021, payroll jobs peaked in the week ending 4 December, which was around one week earlier than in 2020. The peak in 2021 was 2.9 per cent higher than in December 2020,” Mr Jarvis said.

“The week-to-week changes in each of the last four weeks of data showed a relatively similar pattern to 2020, though they were smaller in 2021.”

In the week to December 18, 2021, payroll jobs fell by 0.5 per cent after staying flat the week before. At the same time in 2020, payroll jobs fell by 0.7 per cent after rising 0.1 per cent the week before.

All states and territories recorded a fall in payroll jobs over the fortnight to December 18, with the Northern Territory copping the biggest drop at 0.8 per cent, and Victoria the smallest at 0.1 per cent.

Still, payroll jobs were higher in all states and territories than the year before as eastern states rebounded from extended Delta lockdowns.

From an industry perspective, the ABS said the education and training industry accounted for over a third of the total fall at 38.2 per cent. Inversely, the arts and recreation services industry increased payroll jobs by 1.2 per cent over this period — one of only four industries to do so.

Payroll jobs in rental, hiring, and real estate services fell by 1.2 per cent, and in construction by 1.1 per cent.

The ABS is yet to release the figures for the period covering the beginning of the Omicron outbreak.

Role-by-role earnings

Alongside the payroll jobs data, the ABS released the latest stats for average earnings for May 2021 based on a string of factors.

Managers and professionals had the highest average hourly earnings of all occupations in May 2021, at $65.10 per hour for managers and $57.90 per hour for professionals.

On the other hand, sales workers and labourers had the lowest average hourly earnings at $30.50 and $31 per hour, respectively.

On a generalised gender basis, men earned $44.50 per hour on average, while women earned $40.20 per hour. This is across all jobs and all types of employment.

“Hourly earnings comparisons are useful in understanding gender pay differences, beyond weekly earnings measures, given men are more likely to work full-time than women,” Mr Jarvis said.

He said men accounted for 62 per cent of full-time workers. Moreover, men who work full time have higher average hourly earnings, at $1934 per week, than women who work full time, at $1676 per week.

Meanwhile, women make up 69 per cent of part-time workers and earn, on average, more than their male part-time counterparts: part-time female workers earned an average of $746 per week, while part-time male workers earned $722 per week in May 2021.

Men were more likely to have their pay set by an individual arrangement, whereas women were more likely to have their pay set by a collective agreement.

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