Jobs fell by 378,000 in September quarter: Australia

Filled jobs fell by 2.6 per cent and hours worked fell by 4.7 per cent in the September quarter 2021, according to seasonally adjusted figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Bjorn Jarvis, head of Labour Statistics at the ABS, said: “The fall in filled jobs (jobs with an employed person in them) in the September quarter was driven by large decreases in the Accommodation and food services and Retail trade industries. These industries are both large employers – together accounting for around 18 per cent of all filled jobs before the pandemic – and they contributed over half (53 per cent) of the fall in filled jobs in the September quarter”.

“The impacts from the Delta period were more concentrated in the Accommodation and food services and Retail trade industries than early in the pandemic. In the June quarter 2020, around 19 per cent of the fall in filled jobs was in Accommodation and food services, while filled jobs in Retail trade actually rose slightly, given the heightened retail activity early in the pandemic.”

“Filled jobs fell by 378,000 in the September quarter, including 308,000 fewer main jobs and 70,000 fewer secondary jobs. This relatively large fall in secondary jobs meant that the number of multiple job holders fell by 7.8 per cent,” Mr Jarvis said.

Change in main jobs and secondary jobs, seasonally adjusted

Quarterly change in main jobs (‘000)Quarterly change in secondary jobs (‘000)

Hours worked fell by 4.7 per cent over the September quarter and were 3.6 per cent below pre pandemic levels.

“While not as pronounced as the quarterly fall in hours worked at the start of the pandemic, when there were large impacts across more industries and more parts of Australia, the decline in hours worked over the September quarter was the second largest fall in the series, which goes back to the mid-1990s.” Mr Jarvis said.

Industry insights

As seen throughout the pandemic, jobs in the customer-facing industries were the most impacted by trading and other restrictions.

The Accommodation and food services industry saw the largest decline in the number of filled jobs in the September quarter (down 143,000), while the 12.9 per cent decrease in filled jobs in Arts and recreation was the largest in proportional terms. Accommodation and food services experienced the sharpest decline in hours worked (30.6 per cent).

In contrast with the first wave of the pandemic, when Retail trade experienced a slight increase in filled jobs (up 1.1 per cent), filled jobs in this industry fell by 4.1 per cent during the Delta period.

Financial and insurance services was the only other industry to see an increase in filled jobs during June quarter 2020, and this industry also saw a fall in filled jobs in September quarter 2021 (2.5 per cent).

While the Construction and Administrative and support services industries experienced large declines in filled jobs early in the pandemic, in the September quarter 2021 Construction saw only a slight fall (down 5,000) while filled jobs in Administrative support services rose by 15,000.

Change in filled jobs, by Industry, seasonally adjusted, June qtr 2020 and September qtr 2021

Jun-20 (‘000)Sep-21 (‘000)
Accommodation and food services-154.4-142.5
Retail trade15.2-58.5
Education and training-73.4-41.1
Arts and recreation services-41.7-35.3
Transport, postal and warehousing-47.9-27.5
Wholesale trade-34.7-25.0
Other services-62.4-15.3
Financial and insurance services9.9-12.2
Professional, scientific and technical services-48.4-10.0
Electricity, gas, water and waste services-4.3-6.5
Information media and telecommunications-13.9-2.4
Public administration and safety-14.8-1.7
Rental, hiring and real estate services-9.8-1.4
Health care and social assistance-28.79.2
Agriculture, forestry and fishing-3.611.8
Administrative and support services-124.215.5

“Sixteen of the nineteen industries saw a decline in filled jobs during September quarter, with thirteen of nineteen industries again below their pre-pandemic levels.” Mr Jarvis said.

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