Australian Bureau of Statistics shows public sector growth during coronavirus pandemic | The Canberra Times

Australian Bureau of Statistics shows public sector growth during coronavirus pandemic | The Canberra Times

news, business, australian bureau of statistics, chris richardson, public service wages, public service jobs, public service growth, recession, wage growth, covid-19 pandemic

While jobs and wages have been devastated by the economic turbulence of the pandemic, the public sector has remained a relative safe haven, new figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics confirm. The number of Commonwealth public sector jobs increased from 242,000 to 246,000 across the nation between June 2019 and June 2020. In the ACT, the number of Commonwealth public sector jobs grew from 75,000 to 77,000 in the same time period. The numbers are higher than those represented in the Australian Public Service Employment Database as the Bureau of Statistics uses a broader scope to assess the number of public sector employees. Total public sector wages grew by about 1.17 per cent in 2019-20, compared with the prior financial year. While this can be explained by the staff increases, it highlights that, at the very least, wages remained fairly steady when they plummeted in almost all other sectors. In fact, according to the ABS fortnightly payroll data, no sector has grown as much during the COVID-19 pandemic (March to October) as the public sector. The number of jobs has grown 2.9 per cent in that time and wages have grown 0.2 per cent, where there has been significant losses in almost all other sectors. Deloitte economist Chris Richardson said this was broadly reflective of the stability of the public sector and the reliance on government jobs during crises. “In a typical crisis, private sector employment falls and public sector employment remains broadly steady,” Mr Richardson said. “This is a crisis where we need the public sector to be doing more so public sector jobs have gone up and that’s a good thing.” Mr Richardson said Canberra particularly had weathered the storm well as it maintains a relatively resilient employment base during downturns. “Canberra as an economy always outperforms in recessions, not because it does so wonderfully but because everywhere else does terribly,” he said. ACT public sector jobs grew by roughly 1000 between June 2019 and June this year. The enormous losses across a majority sectors means there will be an inevitable rebound once the pandemic allows. However, Mr Richardson said don’t expect to see enormous growth in the ACT in public sector jobs or wages. “Just as we do relatively better in downturns and recessions, we do relatively worse in recoveries. That sounds bad, but it simply means we didn’t fall off a cliff and we didn’t climb back up it,” he said. While the Commonwealth public sector fared well the figures show moderate losses at state and local government level in some jurisdictions. The heaviest losses were recorded at the state government level in Victoria.



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