Almost one million jobs lost, wages down by 8% in a month

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on May 05, 2020
Almost one million jobs lost, wages down by 8% in a month

Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash

In damning figures released by the Australia Bureau of Statistics today, COVID-19 has led to 975,000 jobs losses and a 8.2% fall in wages in just one month.

The Australia Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reported that employee jobs decreased by 7.5%, or around 975,000 positions, and wages are down by 8.2% in just a month - from 14 March to 18 April.

The week of 14 March was the week Australia recorded its 100th confirmed COVID-19 case, and young people and older people were most affected by shutdowns.

Under-20s' employment fell 18.5%, while those aged 70+ experienced a 13.9% fall in employment figures.

Employment in the 20-29 age bracket also fell by 11.8%.

Wages fell by 8.2%, with those in Tasmania the hardest hit with a 9.3% fall in wages.

The least-affected were those in South Australia, with a 4.5% fall in wages.

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            ABS head of labour statistics Bjorn Jarvis said those working in food and accommodation and the arts sectors were hit hardest.

            “The industries which lost the most jobs continued to be Accommodation and food services (-33.4%) and Arts and recreation services (-27.0%)," he said.

            “Job losses in Accommodation and food services were greatest in South Australia (-39.7%) and Victoria (-35.6%).

            “The new data shows that jobs in Accommodation and food services worked by people aged 20-29 and people over 70 decreased the most (-40.8% and -43.7%)."

            Westpac senior economist Justin Smirk said the true magnitude of shutdowns is yet to come.

            "This [labour force results] is a clear early indication of the impact the shutdowns are having on the Australian labour market," he said.

            "Our current forecast for a -450k seasonally adjusted fall in employment in April is estimated to be a -3.5% fall in original terms.

            "That contrasts to the around 7% fall in payrolls to the first two weeks in April."

            14 March to 18 April was a busy period for coronavirus lockdowns - on 22 March Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced 'Stage 2' lockdowns.

            On 30 March, JobKeeper was also announced, which aims to take care of an employer's wage book up to $1,500 per employee per fortnight.

            For reference, in the December 2019 quarter, ABS figures revealed the total hourly rates of pay (excluding bonuses) in the accommodation and food services sector was $131.10 in original terms.

            This actually represents a drop in real wages when inflation is taken into account.

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            Harrison is's Assistant Editor. Prior to joining Savings in January 2020, he worked for some of Australia's largest comparison sites and media organisations. With a keen interest in the economy, housing policy, and personal finance, Harrison strives to deliver and edit news and guides that are engaging, thought-provoking, and simple to read.


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