• Jobs & Services Australia

COVID-19 cost more than 700,000 Australians their jobs in just a week.

The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a 5.5 per cent slump in jobs in the first week after extensive business shutdowns and social-distancing limits were introduced to contain the virus.





Key points:

  • ABS numbers suggest 780,000 jobs were lost as COVID-19 restrictions ramped up

  • Around 90pc of those jobs were lost in the first week of April, after tougher COVID-19 restrictions were introduced on March 30

  • The ABS figures are based on the ATO's payroll data


New figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, drawn from Australian Taxation Office Single Touch Payroll data, show the devastating impact of the pandemic on employment.

In total, the number of jobs decreased by 6 per cent over the three weeks since the middle of March, when the latest ABS survey data showed unemployment was at just 5.2 per cent.


Given that Australia had just over 13 million employees in mid-March, the new data suggest 780,000 people had lost their jobs by April 4, just days after the current COVID-19 business and social restrictions were introduced on March 30.


Those restrictions shut thousands of services venues such as pubs, clubs, gyms, cinemas, beauty salons and many other businesses, while Australians were required to stay at home unless shopping for essentials, receiving medical care, exercising, going to work or an educational facility.


Total wages were down by 6.7 per cent over the three-week period, again with a 5.1 per cent decrease in pay packets during the week ending April 4.


Young and old hardest hit by job losses


Younger Australians have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19-related job losses, with 9.9 per cent of workers aged under 20 losing teir jobs since March 14, with the bulk of those job losses since March 28.


The next hardest-hit age group was over-70s, who are particularly vulnerable to serious complications from COVID-19, where employment slumped 9.7 per cent. However, relatively few people in this age group work, making the overall employment impact on this cohort much smaller.


Amongst those of prime working age, it was again the young who bore the brunt of layoffs since the COVID-19 crisis in Australia worsened and tighter social-distancing restrictions were introduced.

Those in their 20s have seen an 8.8 per cent slump in employment, while the number of 30-39-year-olds in work dropped 5.5 per cent.


It is those in the middle-to-older working age brackets who have seen the least impact, albeit still a substantial one.


Forty-somethings have seen a 4.3 per cent drop in employment, 50-somethings a 3.8 per cent decline and those in their 60s have seen employment fall 4 per cent.


Hospitality and the arts battered


The predominance of job losses among the young is not surprising given the industries hardest hit by COVID-19 shutdowns or restrictions.


The worst-affected sector is accommodation and food services, where more than a quarter of jobs were lost between mid-March and the end of the first week in April.


That sector was already shedding a large number of jobs before the tougher restrictions that came into force at the end of March, but close to three-quarters of the job losses came after pubs, clubs and dine-in food services were compelled to close.


Arts and recreation was the next hardest-hit sector, shedding 18.7 per cent of employees, with the forced closure of entertainment and sporting venues sparking about 70 per cent of the job losses, which occurred in the week after March 28.


Education and training was the least-affected sector, at least up to April 4, with just a 0.1 per cent decline in employment.


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OP: ABC

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