The weekly payrolls data from the ABS up to 19th Sept shows that it’s small businesses (fewer than 20 employees) which are suffering the highest job losses; a situation only likely to have been further exacerbated as the JobKeeper stimulus began to wind-back from the end of Sept.
While total payrolls were down 4.1% from pre-COVID levels, those in companies employing fewer than 20 employees were down 7.3% and have fallen about 5% since early-July. It would appear that many small businesses, perhaps propped up in the early stages by the cash-flow and JobKeeper stimulus payments, have been hit by the reality of an economy in sharp recession and forced to closed down as the medium to long term impacts took their toll.
The small business declines are being felt most severely in NSW (down 7.6%) and Victoria (down 12.5%), while in those states where the COVID restrictions have been less onerous (and economic activity therefore less impacted…see here for some detail) falls have been more moderate; QLD down 3.8% and SA and WA both down 3.1%. Nevertheless, even in those states least impacted, it is still the small business sector that has suffered the most and seen recent declines while the larger companies continue to slowly recover.