Unemployment could already be higher than 15%

By Lachlan Maddock
 — 1 minute read

New research shows that unemployment could be worse than official estimates, while job ads saw their worst month since the GFC.

Roy Morgan found that as much as 15.3 per cent of Australia’s workforce was unemployed in April, with a further 9.4 per cent underemployed. That’s down from Roy Morgan’s figure of 3.92 million unemployed or underemployed prior to the announcement of JobKeeper in March, but significantly higher than official estimates of 10 per cent unemployment. 

“Those most heavily impacted face a challenging employment market in the months ahead even as the harshest restrictions are rolled back,” said Roy Morgan CEO Michele Levine. “Several states and territories are now announcing the relaxation of restrictions during May and June while others, including Victoria, have yet to announce any plan to do so prior to a review of conditions next week.”


Roy Morgan’s research also found that 3.8 million workers had their hours reduced, while 2.7 million had been stood down for a period of time and 1.4 million had their pay reduced for the same number of work hours. 

And despite forecasts of a “V-shaped” recovery, it’s not yet clear whether there will be a return to normality once COVID-19 passes.

“The changed economic and employment landscape will start to normalise but with a much larger pool of unemployed and under-utilised workers there will be a far more competitive jobs market for employers to pick from,” Ms Levine said. “There will be no ‘snapback’ which means all, or even most, newly unemployed Australians are back in their original jobs in the next few months.”

The report comes as ANZ figures revealed that job ads plunged 53.1 per cent in April. 

“With non-essential services shut down throughout April, ANZ job ads tumbled by 53 per cent during the month,” said ANZ senior economist Catherine Birch. “This was almost five times the previous record monthly fall of 11.3 per cent in January 2009, which was during the GFC.”

“Job ads fell progressively over the month, adding to the evidence that the downturn in activity is impacting businesses and the labour market at an unprecedented speed.”


Unemployment could already be higher than 15%
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