How over a quarter MILLION jobs have been lost in just two months due to Covid lockdowns in NSW and Victoria
- Figures show that the number of people in work fell by 138,000 in September
- There were 111,000 fewer workers and 2% fewer hours worked than in March 2020
- Experts say improvement in jobs data is unlikely until at least November
More than a quarter of a million jobs have been lost in Australia in the past two months as a result of the corona measures in NSW, Victoria and the ACT.
New figures show that the number of people in work fell by 138,000 in September alone.
“The numbers tell us that the pandemic continues to have a major impact on the workforce and this impact will continue as long as lockdowns are enforced,” Employment Secretary Stuart Robert told reporters on Thursday.
But he expects stronger employment outcomes in November and December as states come out of lockdown, as in the past.
NSW eased restrictions on Monday, the ACT reopens on Friday and Victoria is set to come out of lockdown later this month.
More than a quarter of a million jobs have been lost in Australia in the past two months. A lone person is seen crossing Collins Street in Melbourne on October 4.
The unemployment rate rose to 4.6 percent in September, after falling unexpectedly to a nearly 13-year low of 4.5 percent in August due to the abandonment of job searches.
“The low national unemployment rate still reflects reduced participation during the recent lockdowns, rather than strong labor market conditions,” said Bjorn Jarvis, head of labor statistics at the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
The employment rate of workers or job seekers fell further in September to 64.5 percent, from 65.2 percent.
“This was the third consecutive monthly decline from the near-historic high of 66.2 percent in June 2021 and continued the pattern of large declines in participation during lockdowns,” said Mr Jarvis.
Hours worked rose by 15 million or 0.9 percent, a slight recovery after a sharp drop of 3.7 percent in August.
However, the extended lockdowns in NSW, Victoria and the ACT have reduced employment and hours worked below their pre-pandemic levels.
In September there were 111,000 fewer workers and two percent fewer hours worked than in March 2020.
Sarah Hunter, chief economist at BIS Oxford Economics, said there is unlikely to be any material improvement in jobs data until the November figures.
“Despite the potential for a strong recovery in the economy, it will likely take well into 2022 for the labor market to fully recover,” said Dr Hunter.
Earlier, Reserve Bank of Australia deputy governor Guy Debelle said the central bank saw no material changes in wages or inflation that would pave the way for monetary policy tightening.
Last week, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand raised its key interest rate as the US Federal Reserve questions whether to withdraw its stimulus measures.
“The conditions here in Australia… both wages and inflation are very different from what we see in other countries,” said Dr. Debelle at an online conference.
Australia entered the pandemic with persistently low wage results – much lower than what was seen in comparable countries.
“COVID has not changed that picture,” he told the CFA Australia Investment Conference.
“Yes, there are a few places of increased wage pressure, but it’s not widespread.”
Similarly, on inflation, he said that Australia is not quite dealing with some of the energy problems seen elsewhere in the world, although that feeds into the oil price.
And there hasn’t been much impact from supply chain disruptions driving prices.
The RBA has consistently said it will not raise the spot rate until inflation is sustainably within the inflation target of two to three percent.
It should see wage growth of three percent, compared to 1.7 percent currently.
It does not expect these conditions to be met before 2024.