Australians are working more hours across a range of sectors as the economy re-opens, although the hours rostered by most businesses are still well down on pre-COVID-19 levels.
Workers across Australia’s hospitality industry continued to feel the greatest impact from COVID-19 in the second half of June, with a 30 per cent decline in hours worked compared to pre-COVID-19 levels. Conversely, workers in the healthcare sector increased rostered hours by 1 per cent compared to February levels.
The data is contained in the new Rostering Report, issued by PwC Australia and rostering software firm, Deputy. It is the first of a regular snapshot of the rostered hours worked for more than 100,000 workplaces and more than 660,000 shift workers across the country.
It covers the irregular or casual hours worked across 27 industry sub-sectors including retail outlets, cafes and restaurants, healthcare, gyms, as well as transportation and manufacturing. Each report will compare the two-week activity levels to the previous fortnight and pre-COVID-19 baseline levels in February.
COVID-19 has forced many businesses to rapidly expand or contract the hours of their workers as demand rises and falls. With a significant proportion of the Australian workforce employed on these irregular hours, the new data can be a leading indicator of how the economy is responding to various trends.
Compared to the February baseline, analysis of the 17 June-30 June period found:
- The hospitality sector was the most consistently negatively affected – varying from a 20 per cent decline in Queensland compared to a 36 per cent drop in Victoria
- Hospitality including bars, fast food and restaurants, as well as arts and entertainment and recreation saw some of the largest falls compared to February data across all jurisdictions
- Business activity in South Australia has been relatively less affected by the COVID-19 lockdown, possibly reflecting the low transmission in that state compared to others
- Retail suffered the largest declines in WA and the ACT for the period, down 13 per cent and 23 per cent respectively
- Hours worked by doctors rose by up to 143 per cent in Victoria and up 77 per cent in NSW.
As restrictions have eased, the analysis shows all sectors have increased their rostered hours.
Comparing the 17-30 June fortnight to the previous fortnight (3-16 June) showed:
- Gyms experienced the greatest lift in rostered hours, up by as much as 95 per cent in Victoria, and 66 per cent in NSW
- Accommodation saw an 86 per cent increase in WA and increases in hours worked in every jurisdiction apart from the ACT
- Arts, entertainment and recreation saw an improvement in hours worked across the country, up by 13 per cent in NSW and 15 per cent in Queensland and South Australia.
Deputy collects information on hours worked as part of its cloud-based rostering software. Analysis of this rostering data can assist in understanding in close to real-time how those industries relying on a significant irregular workforce are performing and how the economy is recovering from COVID-19 lockdowns.
PwC’s Chief Economist Jeremy Thorpe said: “We’re seeing the impact of the easing of COVID-19 restrictions across the country as more businesses can re-open and offer more hours of employment.
“However, while the increases in hours worked during June is encouraging, we still have a very long way to go before Australians are working similar numbers of hours to those before the pandemic.
“In most sectors in most states and territories, the number of hours being rostered remains significantly lower than in February, showing the economic journey ahead will continue to be a challenging one for governments to navigate.”
CEO of Deputy Ashik Ahmed said: “We recognised early on the power that our data plays in informing how the world of work operates. Now, in the wake of a global pandemic, our data will play a significant part in helping to predict business owner’s rostering behaviour and the effects COVID-19 will have on Australia’s shiftwork economy. We’re pleased to work with PwC in evaluating the data.”