The number of payroll jobs in the ACT dropped 0.4 per cent in the month ending August 22, but weekly figures show the numbers of jobs gone may have stabilised in the middle of the month.
Since the middle of March, when Australia was at just 100 cases of COVID-19, the number of payroll jobs in the capital has dropped 4 per cent, although some industries, like accommodation and food services, have been hit significantly harder.
Different to the unemployment figures released each month, the Australian Bureau of Statistics has been measuring the effect of the pandemic and lockdowns on the economy through payroll data submitted to the Australian Taxation Office by businesses using single touch payroll.
Measuring both payroll jobs (how many people were paid in a week) and wages (how much they were paid), it shows that while jobs were down 4 per cent since March, wages were down 3.5 per cent in that time.
Senior economist at ANZ Cherelle Murphy said the data showed a sharp drop in late March and early April, but apart from Victoria, jobs have been relatively steady in the past few weeks.
"We will probably see improvements from here," Ms Murphy said.
"There's quite a bit of stimulus in the system, the December quarter will be a bit of a shift because that's where a lot of fiscal stimulus, in the form of JobKeeper, tapers down.
"We haven't seen the end of Commonwealth stimulus yet - as we get towards the budget on October 6 we are likely to see the government pick up its fiscal stimulus and it will be very focused on job creation, particularly for those industries that suffered the most."
We continue to be decimated by ongoing coronavirus restrictions.Australian Hotels Association ACT general manager Anthony Brierley
Ms Murphy said the payroll profile in the ACT hadn't fallen away as much as in other states and territories, and was buffered by the high number of people in full-time jobs that had remained employed.
The strongest recovery in jobs between July and August was in people aged under 20, which was also the only group to experience a significant pay rise since the start of the pandemic. Reflecting the effect of the original flat rate of the JobKeeper payment, under-20s in the ACT have seen a 24.3 per cent increase in their wages since March.
Older Canberrans have experienced the most severe drops in wages, with those aged between 60 and 69 experiencing a 9.5 per cent drop and those 70 and above a 15.4 per cent drop, both rates that are steeper than the drop in jobs.
Apart from Victoria, where strict lockdowns continue to shut down most of the economy, the job losses in the accommodation and food services sector in Canberra are second only to Queensland, where jobs are down 18.9 per cent in the sector.
Australian Hotels Association ACT general manager Anthony Brierley said there hadn't been any meaningful increase in jobs in the sector since restrictions eased significantly in June.
"We continue to be decimated by ongoing coronavirus restrictions," he said.
Mr Brierley said the industry was fearful about the end of September, when the federal government's JobKeeper wage subsidy is reduced, and the ACT measure to pause payroll tax ends.
"Existing staff will get less hours and people who aren't employed are less likely to get a job in our industry," he said.
Rental, hiring and real estate services experienced a 14.6 per cent drop in jobs, and construction dropped 7 per cent.
The pandemic has caused the ACT's jobs market to be more reliant on the public sector than before, with the proportion of jobs in public administration and safety rising from 23.9 per cent to 24.9 per cent, but Ms Murphy said that was unlikely to be permanent as other jobs recover.
"We would hope that because the ACT economy has kind of moved through the stages of shutdown, that we do maintain most of those hospitality jobs and recreation jobs, and the fact the full-time public servant positions have remained in place means there's still demand," she said.
"In one way the public servant jobs are saving other jobs too."