More than a million Australians were already out of work before Victoria’s lockdown hit the jobs market, according to new data from the ABS – and it could be years before they find work again.
Unemployment rose to 7.5 per cent between June and July, while the underemployment race decreased by 0.5 per cent to 11.2 per cent, remaining 2.4 per cent above March levels.
“The number of unemployed people rose by nearly 16,000 between June and July,” said Bjorn Jarvis, ABS head of labour statistics. “For the first time there were more than 1 million people out of work, available to work and actively looking for work.”
Seasonally adjusted employment increased by 114,700 people between June and July, while hours worked increased 1.3 per cent. The monthly increase in employment was underpinned by a larger increase in part-time employment (71,200) than full-time employment (43,500).
“The July figures indicate that employment had recovered by 343,000 people and hours worked had also recovered 5.5 per cent since May,” Mr Jarvis said. “Employment remained over half a million people lower than seen in March, while hours worked remained 5.5 per cent lower.”
However, the full impact of Victoria’s stage 4 restrictions on jobs will only be known upon the release of August Labour Force data. The government has already tipped another $15 billion into JobKeeper in an effort to stymie job losses throughout the state, but the RBA believes unemployment will not fall below 7 per cent until after 2022.
“Employment is expected to decline further over the second half of the year, as job losses from activity restrictions in Victoria and the tightening of the JobKeeper program more than offset a continued recovery in jobs elsewhere in the economy,” the RBA said in its statement on monetary policy. “Total hours are expected to decline a little further between the June and December quarters of 2020.
“Employment will grow faster than both its long-term average pace and population growth over 2021 and 2022, but the employment-to-population ratio will remain much lower than it was prior to the pandemic.”