Vic Drags Payroll Data Down, Undermines NAB Survey

By Glenn Dyer | More Articles by Glenn Dyer

More confirmation of the toll Victoria’s lockdowns are having on the economy with the July jobs report tomorrow looking to take a hit from the new tighter approach to community movement across Melbourne in particular.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics yesterday reported payroll jobs nationally fell by 0.1% in the fortnight between July 11 and 25.

The national figure would have been a rise but was pulled down by Victoria where payroll jobs fell by 1.2% in mid-July – just before the lockdowns were tightened across the state, including regional areas.

There were also falls in Western Australia, by 0.1% (it had been the best-performing state) and in the two territories (ACT and Northern Territory).

Queensland was the best-performed state with payroll jobs up by 0.6% in the middle fortnight while they were up by 0.5% in South Australia and by 0.2% in NSW.

Since payroll data started being collated in mid-March, jobs are down by 6.7% in Victoria, the worst of any state or territory. The best-performed jurisdiction is WA where payroll jobs are down by 2%.

The bureau’s head of labour statistics, Bjorn Jarvis, said there were clear signs of a drop in Victorian payrolls since the tightening of restrictions.

“Around 40 percent of jobs lost in Victoria by mid-April had been regained by 25 June, but by the end of July this had reduced to 24 percent,” he said.

The July jobs report, to be released by the bureau tomorrow, covers part of the payroll job survey. Economists are expecting the national unemployment rate to increase from its June level of 7.4%.

Accommodation and food services were again the hardest hit sector, with payrolls down by 17.9% since mid-March. Arts and recreation payrolls have dropped 15.1% while the agriculture sector is down by 10.1%.

But there have been positives – for instance payrolls in financial and insurance services are up 2.1% from levels in mid-March while they are 1.7% up in public administration and safety.

Meanwhile, the value of the National Australia Bank’s July business survey has been undermined by the survey being taken before the tightened lockdowns were announced in Victoria.

Before that business conditions had improved by 8 points in July to zero, but confidence fell again because of the long-term uncertainty generated by the continuing impact from COVID-19.

The NAB’s survey showed national capacity utilisation remains low at 76.9 per cent and business confidence has dropped from 0 in June to -14 in July. A reading of zero implies no change while the size of the move indicates the speed of change.

Business conditions have improved from -21 in May and -8 in June to 0, but remain below the ten-year average of 5. The NAB said forward orders, stocks, and exports are all negative, but profitability has improved from -20 in May to 2 points in July.

Confidence is worst for construction, retail, and the finance and property industries, and worst in Victoria, South Australia, and New South Wales.

The August survey in a month’s time should show the impact of the tighter lockdowns in Melbourne especially, so many readings will be lower than in July.

Glenn Dyer

About Glenn Dyer

Glenn Dyer has been a finance journalist and TV producer for more than 40 years. He has worked at Maxwell Newton Publications, Queensland Newspapers, AAP, The Australian Financial Review, The Nine Network and Crikey.

View more articles by Glenn Dyer →