CANBERRA, AAP – Payroll jobs grew in the early stages of 2021, but new figures show they are still lagging when compared to a year ago.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics said payroll jobs grew by 1.3 per cent nationally over the fortnight to January 16.

“All states and territories reported an increase in payroll jobs, ranging from 2.8 per cent in Queensland to 0.5 per cent in the Northern Territory,” ABS head of labour statistics Bjorn Jarvis said.

The weekly payrolls series was introduced to give a more frequent update on the state of the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

With a year of data now in place, it shows payrolls were one per cent lower when compared with the same period a year ago.

Consumer confidence – a pointer to future household spending – also rose for a second consecutive week and is close to its long-term average for the first time since late 2019.

The ANZ-Roy Morgan consumer confidence index rose 0.8 per cent in the past week, extending the recovery after a jittery start to the year after snap lockdowns in NSW and Queensland.

News of the lockdown in Perth at the weekend came too late to impact the latest survey.

These latest positive results add to a spread of economic figures in recent weeks suggesting the economic recovery is in full swing.

“It is important to recognise the vast extent to which Australia has come back and that comeback has been enormous across our economy,” Finance Minister Simon Birmingham told Sky News.

However, economists expect the Reserve Bank will sit tight on policy at its first board meeting of the year on Tuesday.

The Reserve Bank has repeatedly said – since cutting the cash rate to a record low 0.1 per cent last November – it will not raise interest rates until inflation is sustainably within its two to three per cent target.

It did not expect that to happen until 2023.

Economists will be scrutinising governor Philip Lowe’s post-meeting statement for the board’s view of the state of the economy and any change in its monetary policy outlook.

Senator Birmingham warned there will be lasting changes as a result of the pandemic and the government won’t be offering a helping hand to businesses that are no longer viable.

“Some businesses won’t find their business models from before are as viable in the future as they might wish them to be … they will have to change and adapt,” Senator Birmingham told Sky News.

“So we don’t want to prop up activities where people may need to adjust their business model. They may need to adjust their circumstances for the future.”