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COVID-19 job losses slow, validating JobKeeper

Maja Garaca Djurdjevic
Maja Garaca Djurdjevic
20 May 2020 1 minute readShare
job losses slow

COVID-19 job losses are slowing, economists believe, with the JobKeeper program said to soften the blow of the coronavirus financial impact, resulting in an employment bounce in sectors most affected by the lockdown measures.

According to data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), while payroll jobs have fallen over the seven weeks from mid-March to early May by 7.3 per cent, or almost 950,000 workers, the latest data has signalled a let-up in the pace of job losses from mid-April to early May.

“The week-to-week changes are much smaller than they were early in the COVID-19 period,” said the head of labour statistics at the ABS, Bjorn Jarvis.

“The decrease in the number of jobs in the week end[ed] 2 May was 1.1 per cent, which was only slightly larger than the 0.9 [of a percentage point] increase in the week end[ed] 25 April,” Mr Jarvis said.

The data also revealed that in addition to an overall let-up in job losses, some industries are also showing a reduced impact in the most recent weeks.

“The accommodation and food services industry had lost around a third of payroll jobs (33.3 per cent) by the week end[ed] 11 April, and a subsequent increase in jobs saw this reduce to around 27.1 per cent by the week end[ed] 2 May,” Mr Jarvis said.

Additionally, arts and recreation services saw a number of job returns, as did the retail sector.

Commenting on the latest figures, the team at Deloitte opined that the situation would have been “much worse” without the federal government’s $130 billion JobKeeper wage subsidy.

Deloitte Access Economics partner David Rumbens explained that Australia’s economic recovery is expected to begin in late 2020 before accelerating in 2021 as travel bans are slowly lifted.

“As economic growth rebounds, employment levels should slowly recover,” Mr Rumbens said.

“The size and speed to which different sectors will rebound will depend on how hard they were hit and how the government eases restrictions and allocates stimulus, as well as regular economic drivers in the market.”

NSW and Victoria hardest hit

However, the latest ABS data also revealed that New South Wales and Victoria could take a while to recover from the coronavirus lockdown measures, with the states’ accommodation and food services industry suffering a payroll job reduction of over 27 per cent.

“The largest net job losses over the seven weeks of the COVID-19 period, in percentage terms, were in Victoria and New South Wales, where the falls in payroll jobs were around 8.4 per cent and 7.7 per cent,” Mr Jarvis said.

Similarly, following the release of the latest ABS data, Commonwealth Bank economists have predicted NSW and Victoria will be hardest hit by the coronavirus-induced slowdown.

Judging that the mining states of Western Australia and the Norther Territory are likely to be less affected, Commonwealth Bank’s team opined that “jurisdictions where restrictions are lifted quickly are likely to recover faster”.

COVID-19 job losses slow, validating JobKeeper
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Maja Garaca Djurdjevic
Maja Garaca Djurdjevic

Maja Garaca Djurdjevic is the editor of My Business. 

Maja has a decade-long career in journalism across finance, business and politics. Now a well-versed reporter in the SME and accounting arena, prior to joining Momentum Media, Maja reported for several established news outlets in Southeast Europe, scrutinising key processes in post-conflict societies and enabling citizens to influence decision-making.

You can email Maja on [email protected] 

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