Fresh data released by Xero revealed that small businesses in February recorded their ninth consecutive month of revenue growth. This data also illustrated that revenue growth for Australian small businesses in February was up 4 percentage points since January.

Small Business revenue increased by 5.1 percent in February following a 1 percent rise in January from 4.6 percent in 2020.

During the month of February, the arts and recreation industries are the sectors which remain the weakest. Both recording an 8 percent decrease in revenue during February. 

The rental, hiring and real estate industries led February’s revenue. These industries grew 15 percent each. This was followed closely by the manufacturing industry, which recorded a 13 percent rise, year-on-year. 

These figures demonstrate the small business sector’s high levels of resilience despite the ongoing effects of the covid-19 pandemic. Despite these figures it is important to note that some industries have been clearly been more fortunate than others. Industries such as the arts and tourism have struggled due to ongoing social distancing rules and restrictions on travel and venue capacities.

Now that the JobKeeper program has been ended, it is curicial for Australians to show their love and support for struggling industries such as the arts and recreation, hospitality and tourism. With Easter approaching, it’s another great excuse for Australians to support small businesses when they shop or travel.

The data released by Xero also revealed that small business jobs rose by 0.5 of a percentage point from a seasonal fall recorded in January. These figures are in line with a national boost to February employment data, which saw unemployment across Australia drop to 5.8 percent. 

According to the figures, employment across the small business sector is currently 1.6 percent higher than what it was in March 2020.

Among the top industries leading the employment surge since March last year are the healthcare and manufacturing industries. These two industries both recorded an increase of 6 percent. The construction industries has increased by 4 percent, retail trade has increased by 3 percent and professional services has increased by 2 percent. Casual employment across Australia is currently 1.2 percent higher than it was in March 2020. 

Victoria and Western Australia were the only two states to see a drop in employment among small businesses. Western Australia saw a job falls of 0.3 of a percentage point and Victoria had a job fall of 0.7 of a percentage point, respectively, following extended lockdown periods. 

Revenue recorded by the two states suffered as well. Western Australia recorded 3.7 percent growth, in comparison Victoria only recorded 2 percent year-on-year growth, this was despite a national average of 5.1 percent.

On Wednesday 24th March, the Australian Government announced additional targeted support package worth $135 million aimed to predominately assist people working in the arts and entertainment sectors. This scheme is called “The Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand Fund” or is commonly referred to as “RISE”.

The additional funding comes at a crucial period of time just a few days before JobKeeper finishes on 28th March. This extra funding distributed to people in entertainment and the arts is super important, as one in five of the last remaining recipients of JobKeeper are from the entertainment and arts sectors.

$125 million of the $135 million will be invested into the federal government’s pre-existing Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand (RISE) fund. This fund was announced last year with a view to prop up the sector after venues were closed and lockdowns were introduced, this resulting in the cancellation of most entertainment events.  

The remaining $10 million will be distributed to the charity Support Act, which offers crisis support to artists and other workers across the creative sector. 

This new funding will play a vital role in the resurgence and recovery of Australia’s arts and entertainment sector. The money distributed by the government will make it possible for more shows to be put on. This will result in bringing employment to performers, crews and front-of-house staff.