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Believe it or not – a quarter of our workforce is unemployed or under-employed. - featured image
By Michael Yardney

Believe it or not – a quarter of our workforce is unemployed or under-employed.

We all know the unemployment rate is rising.

In fact we all know somebody who has had their job affected by the coronavirus crisis.Recession

But how many people are really unemployed?

I regularly follow the Roy Morgan unemployment figures which are usually significantly higher than the ABS estimate

This time they are three times higher than the current ABS estimate for March 2020 of 5.2%, but digging deep with the good news is that job keeper has kept the figures down. .

Roy Morgan’s unemployment measure for April shows a massive 2.16 million Australians were unemployed (15.3% of the workforce), with an additional 1.32 million (9.4%) under-employed.

In total 3.5 million (24.7% of the workforce) Australians are now either unemployed or under-employed.

This is 439,000 fewer than the 3.92 million unemployed or under-employed (27.4% of the workforce) during the last two weeks of March (March 20-31, 2020) immediately before the Federal Government’s JobKeeper program was announced.

Latest Roy Morgan employment series data for April shows:

  • The workforce in April was 14,150,000 – comprised of 11,991,000 employed and 2,159,000 unemployed Australians looking for work. The workforce total is down 152,000 since late March;
  • The number of Australians in employment in April was up 96,000 from late March to 11,991,000. Full-time employment was up 89,000 to 7,826,000 and part-time employment was up 7,000 to 4,165,000;
  • Australians looking for work was a record monthly high of 2,159,000, but down 248,000 on late March. The number looking for full-time work increased by 41,000 to 1,001,000 since late March while the number looking for part-time work was down by 289,000 to 1,158,000;
  • Roy Morgan’s unemployment figure of 15.3% for April is now almost three times higher than the current ABS estimate for March 2020 of 5.2%. The ABS figure for March was based on interviews conducted in reference to early March (pre shut-downs) and did not include data related to the situation in late March (post shut-downs).

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source October 2005 – April 2020. Average monthly interviews 4,000.

Additional research into the impact of COVID-19 Coronavirus has revealed 10.5 million working Australians (68%) have had a change to their employment situation.

Australians in the workforce were asked: “As a result of the Coronavirus Crisis, have you experienced any of the following employment changes.”

Some people reported several changes to their working conditions since the Coronavirus like being stood down, having reduced hours and working from home. This reflects the changing nature of the situation for companies and employees as they navigate the crisis.

The impacts on workers include:

For the 3.4 million (22%) who cite ‘some other change to their employment’ this includes working from home, being put on enforced leave, changes in work rostering, social distancing measures at work, split shifts, an increase in responsibility, a halt to business growth, precautions put in place at work, being in a vulnerable group for COVID-19 so not being able to take work and an inability to see clients face-to-face.
ALL employment changes mentioned* MOST SERIOUS employment change mentioned
Having work hours reduced 3.8m (25%) 1.9m (12%)
Stood down for a period of time 2.7m (18%) 2.4m (15%)
Had an increase in their work hours 2.5m (16%) 1.5m (10%)
Not had any work offered 2.4m (16%) 1.2m (8%)
Had their pay reduced for same number of work hours 1.4m (9%) 320,000 (2%)
Been made redundant 670,000 (4%) 670,000 (4%)
Some other change to employment (including working from home) 3.4m (22%) 2.7m (17%)
TOTAL Had a change to employment 10.5m (68%) 10.5m (68%)

*The figures in the ‘ALL employment changes mentioned’ column add to over 100% as many respondents mentioned more than one employment change they’ve had because of the coronavirus. **’Working from home’ was not offered as an option for those answering the survey. Those who mentioned ‘working from home’ had answered ‘some other change to employment’ and were separated out due to the large number of respondents mentioning this employment change.

Expert Commentary:

Michele Levine, CEO Roy Morgan, says the COVID-19 Coronavirus struck the Australian economy like a ‘hammer blow’ in late March as Governments around the country enforced strict shutdowns to limit the movement of people and the virusIsolation
“Roy Morgan’s unemployment measure for April shows 2.16 million Australians were unemployed (15.3% of the workforce) with an additional 1.32 million (9.4%) under-employed.
“In total a massive 3.5 million (24.7%) Australians are now either unemployed or under-employed. This is 439,000 fewer than the 3.92 million (27.4%) during the last two weeks of March (March 20-31, 2020) immediately before the Federal Government’s JobKeeper program was announced.
“Special research undertaken by Roy Morgan during April has revealed that 3.8 million working Australians have had their working hours reduced, 2.7 million have been stood down for a period of time, 2.4 million have not had any work offered, 1.4 million have had their pay reduced for the same number of work hours and 670,000 have already been made redundant. Some will have had two or more of the above impacts already on their employment.
“Those most heavily impacted face a challenging employment market in the months ahead even as the harshest restrictions are rolled back. 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.
“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. 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.”

Now is the time to take action and set yourself for the opportunities that will present themselves when we move out of the Coronavirus Cocoon

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About Michael Yardney Michael is the founder of Metropole Property Strategists who help their clients grow, protect and pass on their wealth through independent, unbiased property advice and advocacy. He's once again been voted Australia's leading property investment adviser and one of Australia's 50 most influential Thought Leaders. His opinions are regularly featured in the media.
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