In these unprecedented times, economies across the globe are addressing several challenges, with the top priority to save as many lives as possible and curb the spread of relentless COVID-19, caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).
In their efforts to contain the virus, governments imposed strict lockdowns, travel restrictions and social distancing. As a result, countless businesses shuttered, while many that are staying open minimised their operations. None of the sectors remains immune to the corona crisis, but there are a few like tourism, aviation, retail, and real estate that experienced the worst after the onset of the pandemic.
Australia Unemployment Rate Grows to 6.2 Per Cent
Total unemployment reached 823,300 in April 2020, after an increase of 104,500 unemployed people in the market, on a seasonally adjusted basis, as per latest report by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The jobless rate stood at 6.2 per cent in April 2020, an increase of 1.0 percentage point from 5.2 per cent in the previous month.
Employment dropped by 594,300 people or 4.6% between the period of March 2020 and April 2020, on a seasonally adjusted term. During the pandemic period, April witnessed significant changes across all labour market indicators.
Bjorn Jarvis, head of labour statistics at the ABS stated that the number of drop-in jobs is not getting added to the number of unemployed people, as nearly 489,800 people left the labour force. As an unusual number of people left the labour force, participation rate fell to 63.5 per cent, a dip of 2.4 percentage points. It also reflects that a large number of unemployed people could not or did not actively look for work or were not available for employment.
The harrowing pandemic crisis has extensively affected the hours worked, as total hours worked decreased between March and April by approximately 9.2 per cent.
Nearly 2.7 million people were either unemployed or their hours reduced between the period of March and April, when combined with people leaving the workforce, which is much higher when compared with data in previous years. The number of underemployed people stood at 1.8 million, up by 603,300 people, while the underemployment rate increased by a whopping 13.7 per cent on a seasonally adjusted basis, reflecting an addition of 4.9 percentage points.
If we talk about total of the unemployment rate and underemployment rate, the underutilisation rate grew to a record level of 19.9 per cent.
In recently released reports of Weekly Payroll Jobs and Wages in Australia, data highlighted that nearly 607,000 paid jobs were cut during April in Single Touch Payroll enabled employers. The decline in unemployment and hours worked in April were in line with the drop in payroll jobs for the employers.
High Unemployment Rate is Devastating: PM Scott Morrison
Commenting on the ABS report findings, Prime Minister Scott Morrison stated that a loss of nearly 600,000 jobs is devastating for families and communities who are affected by business shutdowns and lockdown restrictions.
He added that though it was unexpected, it is terribly shocking and an extremely tough time for all. And, Australians might have to hear similar announcements in the coming time, as the impact of shutdowns would become more evident as is the case with other countries around the world.
However, the unemployment rate is below what some economists were expecting for April 2020, owing to the Federal Government's JobKeeper Payment program, according to Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.
How is the Job Market for an Unemployed Person?
As per a report by ACOSS and Jobs Australia Ltd., it is indeed not easy to get a job for an unemployed person. The departments that contributed in the report are- ABS, Department of Education, Skills and Employment, and the Department of Social Services, in addition to employment service providers, among others.
The competition for jobs has increased, and for entry-level employment, the competition is more stringent. Furthermore, the competition rises as the job seeker competes with the existing employees who are changing jobs and freshers from migrants or school-leavers.
According to estimates in 2018 by the Department of Education, Skills and Employment, for every job, there was an average of 19 applicants. The employment growth was substantial between 2017 and June 2019 and around 12,281,000 people were employed in that month. In January 2020, nearly 12,289,000 people were employed, highlighting a negligible growth.
The road ahead looks gloomy due to the coronavirus crisis and recent bushfires that are likely to detract the economy growth by at least 0.7% of GDP in Q1 2020. The second quarter is also expected to experience a widespread impact, consequently unemployment rate is expected to rise further.
Fair Work Commission's Processing and Dealing during COVID-19
Amid the crisis, ongoing focus of the Fair Work Commission is towards ensuring a safe environment for everyone including its staff and clients, targeted towards providing continued services to the community.
Processing & dealing with cases by the commission includes-
- Conciliation and mediation on the phone: Processing of cases of workplace bullying and unfair dismissal starts with conciliation or mediation with one of the FWC's staff member on phone conferences. It means that everyone can participate from home without the need to reach the FWC office.
- Hearing by phone or videoconferences: During the pandemic time, for future proceedings and already scheduled cases, all hearings and conferences are to be held through videoconference or phone. For the cases already scheduled for hearing at FWC office, the organisation would contact the involved parties to inform about changes in proceedings.
- Cases to be dealt on papers: FWC can deal with the cases on papers using written material of both the parties, in this case, no verbal submissions or evidence needed. Parties would be informed if their matters are to be dealt with on papers.
- Lodging submissions and evidence electronically: All submissions and evidence are required to be lodged through the electronic medium. Even appeal books need to be submitted electronically at the nearest commission office.
Apart from managing the pandemic better, job losses are the biggest challenge for any government. The world has changed after the onset of novel coronavirus. In this new environment, job creation might be tough for the government; however, technological advancements and revival of many sectors bring some hope for new employment.