Which industries and areas are most affected from the COVID-19 shut down?

One of the biggest impacts on communities as a result of the COVID shut down is employment. But some industries will be affected more than others. Many regional communities rely on the tourism or service industries, both of which have been crushed by the COVID shut-down, and will take a while to recover; and many have fewer industries, so rely heavily on these for employment.

The ABS produced some interesting data this week, using real time data on people on payroll (it uses the ATO Single Touch Payroll – STP – data), which can produce data by which Industry people are employed in. The data (released on 19 May) showed an important story about which industries have been affected by the COVID lockdown the most over the period 14 March (before the lockdown) to 2 May.

The data are graphed below. Not surprisingly given the lockdown, the industries most affected were Accommodation and Food Services (down 27.1%) and Arts and Recreation services (down 19%). Within Arts and Recreation, the most hit were Sports and Recreation Activities (down 29.9%) and Creative and Performing Arts Activities (down 29.5%) (not shown below but available from the link). If you have a lot of people working in these industry’s in your local area, your community will likely suffer a greater economic impact from the COVID shutdown. In next weeks blog, I will present some analysis that uses 2016 Census data to identify communities that have more people working in these particular industries.

Figure 1: Jobs lost by Industry, 14 March to 2 May

Source: ABS 2020 (link)

What impact is this going to have on your community? Obviously if you have a high proportion of people working in these industries, you will be affected more. The ABS have produced broad geographic results on overall impacts on employment in broad regions, again based on the STP data, which are mapped below. This is the proportion of jobs lost in different regions from 14 March to 18 April (a slightly different date range to the data above). If you click on an area, the detailed data (% Jobs lost in the area) will be given. Note that this is an map for all of Australia – so it takes a while to load.

Source: ABS 2020 (Link)

This map shows that north NSW coastal areas are most affected (possibly because of their reliance on tourism – accommodation and food services); and regional NSW, Victoria and SA (possibly due to the sensitivity of employment in regional areas to a downturn). Note that the relationship between the impact on industry, and the overall impact (as measured by the ABS/ATO data) is complex, as there are a number of factors that affect employment in an area – industry mix; business confidence; environmental conditions (eg, drought); historical economic climate; etc.

What can we learn from the latest ABS data?

  1. Communities with a high proportion of workers in the Accommodation and Food Services; and Arts and Recreation Services will have a lot of people who have lost jobs due to the COVID shut down.
  2. Coastal areas in NSW North of Sydney; and many areas in regional NSW, Victoria and SA have been affected most.

What are the limitations of this analysis? The most significant one is that the SA4 geography, which the ABS used for their spatial analysis, is too large to be useful for local councils, particularly in regional areas. In theory, to resolve this dilemma we can look at the 2016 Census data to identify which areas had a high proportion of people in each of the industries affected, and using the industry impact estimates from the ABS, we can estimate the impact for each LGA (or even suburb). I’m currently working on this, and will have a map of the potentially effect on each LGA in next week’s blog.

The amount of diversity in industry mix each community has is also important. If your area relies on accommodation and food services, and this is the primary industry, then there are some difficult times ahead. I plan to look at the level of diversity in industry in each LGA, and map this, using methods that the ABS used in 2014 (link) but updated to the 2016 Census data. Again, a national online map will be available. Expect this after next week’s blog.

Of course, every community is different. Data only presents part of the story of how your community can best recover from COVID. The rest can only be told through visiting, talking to people in your community, and understanding the issues they face. If you are interested in talking about how Communities in Numbers can help you develop a plan to recover from COVID, please EMail me at rob@cin.org.au.