The impact of the COVID shutdown on employment by LGA

In my last blog, I showed ABS data on the impact of the COVID shut down by industry. This used the ATO Single Touch payroll data, so it could be published much faster than the data from ABS surveys.

The ABS also presented data by SA4, which I mapped in my last blog. While this geographic categorisation is logical for presenting employment data, it isn’t particularly useful for communities, or councils, who prefer data by LGA.

In my academic job, I spend much of my time converting data between different geographies, and deriving data for the geographies we want. I therefore used one of the techniques I have developed over the past few years. I took the 2016 Census data on employment by industry in each LGA, and applied to these data the proportionate cuts derived by the ABS for each industry and State. This was a fairly basic approach, but assuming there was no change since 2016 in the mix of employment by industry in your LGA (I except Councils will already know this), it should give an indication of the areas that are going to be worst affected.

I have presented this in a map below. I have also shown the impact as a proportion of total employment in the LGA (so more populous areas don’t show as high simply because they have more people). There is an equal number of LGA’s in each of the 5 groups (quintiles), with red being a high percentage loss; and blue being low.

What we see is that areas in Queensland have done well; and areas in Victoria haven’t. The reason for this was the ABS estimates showed Queensland employment did not suffer as much as employment in other States – Figure 2 shows the impact by State (so I have averaged the ABS industry by State impacts over industry to get just the State impact). Queensland and the Northern Territory have the lowest average impact; while Victoria and NSW have the highest. This is what is driving the LGA map.

You can see the impact on your LGA, and if you click on an LGA, you will get data for that LGA, including the jobs in 2016; the jobs post COVID; and the jobs lost. In the ACT region, the LGA most affected is the Snowy-Monaro region, with 9.5% of jobs lost. These were mainly in the Accommodation and Food Services industry (364 of the 911 jobs lost, or 40%, were in this one industry).

Figure 1: Map of jobs lost by LGA

Source: ABS 2016 Census; ABS 2020 (link)

This map shows that the whole of Victoria is suffering significant employment loss, and this can also be seen in Figure 2, with an average job loss across all industries of 9 per cent. Melbourne LGA’s are particularly hard hit, with all in the highest loss category.

So what do you do if your LGA is showing as high loss? First of all, don’t panic. You probably need more information on why you are in this category, and I’m happy to provide detail on any LGA if you contact me.

Second, you need information on businesses in your area. What the map above shows is average information using salaries data from businesses last month. It may be that the business shock is now mitigated, businesses are opening again, and employment is coming back. From my research, the main thing I can say about communities is that every community is different, and needs information targeted to their needs.

Finally, you need to develop a plan to get businesses in your area employing people again. Resilient regions are those that have a diversity of employers. We saw in the last post that there were 2 industries badly affected by the virus shutdown (Arts and Recreation; and Accommodation and Food). If businesses in your area are in these two industries, employment is going to be hit. But if you also had some employers in health care and social assistance; and financial and insurance services, which weren’t hit badly, then the impact on employment in your area should be limited. If you want to see how we measure a communities capacity to adapt, which includes industry diversification, see my paper here: (starting at P 165).

Figure 2: Graph of average job losses as a result of COVID-19 by State

Source: ABS 2020 (link)

In next fortnight’s blog, I plan to talk more about industry diversification and show some maps of measures of industry diversification. Until then, if you do have any questions, please feel free to contact me.