Payroll Data Improves, Fitch Trims Growth Outlook

By Glenn Dyer | More Articles by Glenn Dyer

While the NAB survey for August showed business conditions were down last month across the country, payroll jobs and wages again recovered, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

But not in Victoria where they were weaker – which was to be expected given the stage 4 lockdown in Melbourne and the stage 3 situation across regional parts of the state.
The monthly payroll jobs and wages data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics released on Tuesday showed that nationally there was a 0.3% lift in payroll jobs in the fortnight to August 22. That compares to a small 0.1% fall in July.

Locked-down Victoria suffered a 0.7% drop in new jobs but that was better than the 1.5% fall in the state through July ahead of the introduction of Stage 4 and Stage 3 COVID-19 restrictions.

Total job losses from March 14 to July 25 were 6.7%, but that worsened to a fall of 7.9% in August, against a drop of 4.2% nationally.

The fall in wages in Victoria worsened though to a drop of 6.2% in August (from March 14) against a 5.0% drop for July.

There was a 1.3% jump in new payroll jobs in Tasmania, a rise of 1.1% in South Australia while in NSW they were up by 0.7%.

Outside of Victoria, the best-performed states so far as wages from March 14 to late August were Western Australia (down 1%) and the Northern Territory (down 1.1%).

For August, total wages rose by 0.2% nationally in the fortnight to August 22, but they were down by 0.6% in Victoria and by 1% in the ACT.

Wages were up by 1% or more in WA, Tasmania, and the Northern Territory while they edged up 0.4% in NSW.

Since mid-March, wages are down by 5.2% nationally which was worse than the 4.8% fall from March 14 to July 25.

Victoria is the hardest hit, down by 6.2% while they are down by just 0.2% in the Northern Territory. In NSW, wages are down by 5.6%.

Meanwhile, Victoria’s lockdowns and their impact has seen Fitch Ratings trim its Australian growth forecasts for 2020 (as did Moody’s in late August).

Fitch says it had cut its GDP forecasts for Australia by 0.9 percentage points from its June forecast and now sees the economy contracting by 3.6% this year.

After the June quarter’s 7% slump, Fitch believes the economy will grow a modest 0.4% in the September quarter, held back by the events playing out in Victoria.

In 2021, Fitch sees the economy growing by 3.9%.

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.

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