covid19 impact Archives - Education Geographics

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Covid Jobs update from John Black, CEO of Education Geographics, October 6, 2020.

Newer Isn’t Always Better

Category:Labour Market Tags : 

Covid Jobs update from John Black, CEO of Education Geographics, October 6, 2020.

A week or so back we provided a profile of how the broader Australian stereotypes were faring under Covid jobs lockdowns and today we’re urging a bit of caution when it comes to rushing to judgement on the latest payroll stats – because newer isn’t always better.

Although they don’t quite put it like this, the Australian Bureau of Statistics and I both agree the payroll stats are like a fine bottle of red … you’re well advised to let them age a little after opening, before taking the first sip and rushing to judgement.

The official explanation is contained in the recent ABS release on the weekly payroll data for the week ending September 5, where you can see a section called data limitations and revisions. You can find the technical explanations through this link.

https://www.abs.gov.au/methodologies/weekly-payroll-jobs-and-wages-australia-methodology/week-ending-5-september-2020#data-limitations-and-revisions

In this section, the bureau stressed that they were trying to help policy makers during these extraordinary times, by releasing data as close as possible to the period when the activity occurred and then make the data as accurate as possible over time, but incorporating new data when it was received.

This means that the latest data is only about 75 percent to 80 percent complete and can take several months to be fully complete and so the final figures look a lot more attractive after ageing than they do when they’re brand new, as you can see below. Even two weeks of waiting can add one point to the index number for the same release.

Covid Jobs update from John Black, CEO of Education Geographics, October 6, 2020.

So far, so good. But what happens when we check out the profile of the 20 to 25 percent of jobs which come late to the party? Let’s check out our two Stereotype Charts for August 8, with the top one based on the original data and the second one also showing the revised data in yellow bars.

So far, so good. But what happens when we check out the profile of the 20 to 25 percent of jobs which come late to the party?

 

So far, so good. But what happens when we check out the profile of the 20 to 25 percent of jobs which come late to the party?

The central thrust of the original data profiles shows the big urban and provincial city Working Families and the younger and more aspirational, outer suburban Swinging Voters both faring relatively well from the impact of the Covid jobs lockdown. By relatively well, we mean relative to a (non-Victorian) Australian average jobs loss of about three percent from mid-March to August 8.

When we take a close look at the changes in index numbers for individual occupations and the suburb profiles for where they tend to live, we see that the industries which tend to improve after revision include the better-paid ones we often find in the Goat Cheese Circle inner suburbs, such as professional consulting, finance, media and real estate.

This means our maps for the loss of jobs across inner suburbs tend to look a lot greener after a month or so, after new employer data has been reported from those employers reporting less frequently than every week.

So, until the ABS has amassed enough single touch payroll data over a few years of relatively stable labour markets, to make regular seasonal adjustments, treat the latest weekly data releases with caution, as the revised data a month or so older, is often more accurate.

Just like an old vine Barossa Shiraz, big data often improves with ageing.

Next update, we’ll take a look at the impact of the Federal Budget on those industries most impacted by jobs lockdowns. Talk to you then.

 


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Job recovery was underway in May following initial hit in April May 2020

Jobs Recovery Was Underway In May Following Initial Hit In March/April

Category:Health,Labour Market Tags : 

The recovery in many jobs was well under way in May. It’s been most pronounced in those hit first in March/April, working in hospitality, young home buyers, young casual workers also studying at TAFE and this is all to the good.

The downturn however continued in May among farming and rural communities, especially fishing (think lobsters in cargo holds of international tourist flights). This has impacted coastal and many rural communities.

The overall picture from March to the end of May shows mainstream suburban families (married, middle aged, with a mortgage and kids at school, two jobs that they really need, and going to church occasionally) to have been much less affected by Covid or by the follow-up lockdowns – down about five percent. These are the groups which weren’t picked up in the polls before the last election and which re-elected Scott Morrison as PM.  

The groups in deepest trouble (ten percent plus loss over jobs) over the period March to May were – despite a recovery in May – still the workers in casual hospitality and arts & rec jobs (agnostics, twenty somethings, living in small rental units, single, agnostics, no kids, Green voters).

Link to Map

 Jobs Recovery was underway in May following intial hit in March / April.

So, good is down only five percent and getting better slowly. Bad is ten percent and getting worse slowly. Spatially, Tasmania looks pretty awful, as do many rural and coastal communities, but the really horrible bits on the map are the inner-city suburbs, particularly in Melbourne and Sydney, where Covid cases have been most concentrated.

Because the jobs lost in many cases have been second or third casual jobs and less well paid, the impact of jobs lost to the economy has been a bit overstated and has actually increased average incomes per job in many suburban areas, especially with large public sector payrolls.

This is, however, pretty cold comfort, for those relying on Government handouts and counting down to the end of September.

What was the real rate of unemployment in May? The short answer is 11.5 percent. This is obtained by maintaining the pre-Covid lockdown participation rate at the March level of 66.2 percent and applying this to the Civilian population 15 years and over, producing a potential workforce of up to 13, 770,061 in May. The combined numbers of officially unemployed and those who dropped out was 1,579,639. We used original or unadjusted figures as seasonal adjustments have become overwhelmed by Covid lockdowns and only original figures are used spatially for smaller areas. The original unemployment figure was marginally higher at 11.7 percent and 12.1 percent respectively in January and February 1993.

The figure of 11.5 percent also resonates with the new and more immediate ABS series on Weekly Payroll Jobs and Wages, which shows 5.6 percent of main jobs were lost between March 14 and the end of May and the official March unemployment rate was 5.6 percent in March. The two figures sum to 11.2 percent.

This means the current unemployment rate is as bad now as it was during the worst of the recession in the early 1990’s. The unemployment figure then was marginally higher at 11.7 percent and 12.1 percent respectively in January and February 1993.

The current figures for the one touch payroll data have been recovering slowly from the initial impact of the Covid jobs lockdown in early April, and this 11.2 percent hybrid figure is likely to continue (barring a second wave starting off from Victoria) at least until the Government begins to wind back JobKeeper and JobSeeker in September.

The realistic figure for unemployment rates at that time will be determined by whether the rate of recovery exceeds the rate at which those now on JobKeeper or JobSeeker join the ranks of those actively seeking work and satisfying the ABS definition of being unemployed.

The official ABS labour market unemployment rate is now pretty meaningless, as participation rates will tend to decline with relatively older and younger workers dropping out of the labour market.

In fact, the first sign of a recovery in a recessed regional labour market can be an interim increase in the local unemployment rate, as formerly discouraged workers are encouraged to seek work by becoming officially unemployed on a temporary basis, while actively hunting for a job and hence immediately boosting participation rates and then growing employment in the longer term.

So the most useful indicators you should be watching for in coming months are total jobs lost and gained by region and accompanying movements to participation rates.

 

Text by John Black, founder of ADS and EGS. Maps by Dr. Jeanine McMullan, CEO of Health Geographics.