Monday, 4 May 2020

By 24 April 2020 there were 1,346,172 unemployed people across Australia, at least 500,000 of whom had lost their jobs due to the pandemic

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics in January 2020 there were est. 778,700‬ people of workforce age who were unemployed in Australia and, est. 207,200 (26.6%) of these were New South Wales residents.

By 24 April 2020 there were est. 1,346,172 unemployed people (between the ages of 15 to 64 years) spread across the nation and, it is likely that unemployed people in New South Wales then exceeded est. 224,700 individuals.

The national figure represents an additional 567,472 unemployed people between January and late April - with an est. 500,000 of this number out of work due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Initial results in a Monash Univerity ongoing study suggests that 90% of those who lost their jobs due to COVID-19 public health restrictions/changed economic climate were given less than one week's notice and of those 44.7% received no notice at all.

Processing unemployment benefit applications for over half a million extra Australians in need is taking time and, est. 317,597 applications were still outstanding on 24 April.

Apart from an initial $750 economic support payment for those receiving Jobseeker (previously Newstart), no enhanced unemployment benefits or JobKeeper* subsidised wage payments commenced until after 27 April 2020, with some payments not due to be received until 11 May [See Senate Select Committee on COVID-19, public hearing transcript, 30 April 2020, p.22]. 

Which means that, commencing on 28 February, between est. 20,320 to 249,875 Australian citizens had been without income support** and those single people on unemployment benefits had been struggling to live on as little as est. $18-$40 per day.

According to a Senate estimates hearing on 30 April, est. 400,000 more people are expected to lose their jobs by September 2020, at which time the unemployment rate is predicted to be around 13 per cent.

Goldman Sachs analysts are reportedly predicting an effective unemployment rate*** of 19 per cent by June-July.

Prime Minister & Liberal MP for Cook Scott Morrison is adamant that once the pandemic crisis passes all enhanced unemployment benefit rates will return to pre-pandemic levels - he is less clear about where the est. 1.74 million out of work Australians will be able to find a job.


* As of 28 April 2020 an est. 540,000 businesses have registered for the JobKeeper wage subsidisation scheme. The est. 3.3 million workers in these businesses are considered employed. JobKeeper wage payments to workers are subject to tax which is witheld by employers before payment is made.

** This last figure does not take into consideration unemployed non-citizens on student or work visas who are ineligible to apply for unemployment benefits.

*** An effective unemployment rate takes into consideration those who have had their hours of paid worik reduced, those who have given up looking for work since they lost their jobs and, those receiving JobKeeper payments but whose employer has temporarily ceased operating or is not operating at full capacity and therefore they are not going to work.

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