Almost one million Australians lost their jobs in five weeks, with the hospitality and tourism sectors worst affected by social distancing restrictions.
More than a third of employees in hotels, cafes and restaurants lost their jobs from 14 March—the date Australia recorded its 100th coronavirus case—until the week ending 18 April.
The ABS payroll data showed job losses of 7.5 per cent, with wages down 8.2 per cent. The numbers, as well as the 5 million Australians on job keeper, one million on job seeker and million-odd accessing their super, has placed pressure on the national cabinet to re-open the prime minister said on Tuesday.
Scott Morrison said that the national cabinet is now focused on “getting Australians back to work”.
“We now need to get 1 million Australians back to work. That is the curve we need to address,” Morrison said, referencing the 146,000 jobs lost in retail, 120,000 jobs in construction and more than 180,000 jobs lost in the arts.
Carriageworks is the latest arts casualty, appointing KPMG administrators as it battles an “irreparable loss of income”. The facility is the largest multi-arts centre in the country.
Economists Shane Wright and Alex Joiner pointed out that the latest ABS data suggests an unemployment rate closer to 12 per cent, while RBA governor Philip Lowe said the board expects unemployment to peak at around 10 per cent.
In holding the cash rate at 0.25 per cent at Tuesday’s meeting, the board considered a baseline scenario of a 10 per cent fall in GDP over the first half of 2020. The bank also broadened the range of eligible collateral for its daily market operations.
Speaking at the press club on Tuesday, treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that the coronavirus is costing the economy $4 billion a week.
The knock-on effect of a public health crisis and social distancing restrictions “dwarfs” the economic shock of the global financial crisis, Frydenberg said.
ABS head of labour statistics Bjorn Jarvis said that the majority of jobs lost between mid-March and mid-April were in accommodation and food—33.4 per cent—and arts and recreation at 27 per cent.
“Job losses in accommodation and food services were greatest in South Australia (-39.7pc) and Victoria (-35.6pc).
“Looking at the week-to-week changes, the decrease in the number of jobs in the week ending 18 April was 1.5 per cent, which was larger than the 0.3 per cent decrease in week ending 11 April 2020,” Jarvis said.