Updates to this research will be published fortnightly to track the impact and response to COVID-19. View Previous Wave.
The latest wave of the COVID-19 SME Research Tracker shows that SMEs continue on the road to recovery as we approach the end of a traumatic 2020. Revenue and profit continue to rebound and 45% of SMEs now expect to return to pre-COVID revenues by the end of December.
Table 1: Revenue Returning to Pre-COVID Levels Before End of 2020
It is also notable that only 26% of SMEs are now claiming the JobKeeper stimulus and only 9% continue to defer loans.
Table 2: JobKeeper Extension
With borders reopening and social distancing restrictions being lifted we can also report that the mean proportion of employees working from home has reduced to 40% from 52% in the previous wave.
Despite indicators pointing to a sustained recovery, the jobs data continues to be weaker with 38% of SMEs employing less staff now, than before the pandemic.
The proportion of SMEs recruiting new employees has also declined to 16% after a steady upward move to 20% over the past 2 months. Larger businesses continue to recruit, but micro businesses (<5 employees) and those in the construction sector appear to be less active as we move into the holiday period.
Table 3: Job Roles
It is very concerning to report that 84% of SMEs looking for new employees are finding it difficult to fill roles. It is also alarming that SMEs cannot find candidates that are willing to work the required hours (38%) at an affordable wage (28%). The lack of itinerant workers (18%) is no doubt compounding this issue.
Table 4: Difficulty Filling Job Roles
With easing restrictions and Christmas drawing closer, confidence regarding the economic recovery in Australia continues to improve. Despite weaker jobs data and the difficulty in recruiting suitable candidates, it is very positive to see a reduced dependency on Government initiated support measures.
However, the Government will need to act quickly to address the employment bottlenecks that will stall the momentum if SMEs are unable to access the staff required to support a sustained recovery.
Please click on this link to access the full report including subgroup analysis by industry sector, size of business and State. ACA Research and TEG Insights will publish updates of this research to track the impact and response to COVID-19. Hopefully the results will become more positive as we work through this crisis together.