Victorian businesses shed roughly 95,000 jobs over the month to August 8 as the state government struggled to contain a second wave of infections.
New data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Tuesday shows the number of payroll jobs in the state fell by 2.8 per cent over that timeframe, compared to a 1 per cent decline nationally.
The data, which is different to the official unemployment statistics as it counts jobs and not employed people, only captures the first three days of stage 4 restrictions in Victoria. And the 95,000 job loss estimate is based on a rough extrapolation of ABS labour force data.
The latest release comes after Treasury said on Sunday that 450,000 workers would likely lose their jobs or be stood down in August and September as a result of the tougher restrictions.
Though most of the job losses will be concentrated in Victoria, Treasury said they would spill into other states, too.
But the same Treasury analysis also showed the jobs market had enjoyed a noticeable recovery since April, which Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said gave “cause for optimism”.
Treasury found that more than half of the 1.3 million Australians who lost their jobs or were stood down at the start of the crisis had restarted some form of work by July – and Tuesday’s ABS data points to a similar trend.
It shows that 43 per cent of payroll jobs lost across Australia by mid-April were recovered by August 8 – with close to half (52 per cent) of jobs worked by women and 19 per cent of jobs worked by men having been reclaimed.
However, women, and particularly young women, lost more jobs than men during the initial phase of the pandemic, as the government restrictions disproportionately affected female-dominated industries such as hospitality and the arts.
As restrictions have eased, these jobs have come back faster than jobs in other industries, such as construction and professional services, which are now feeling the strain.
The ABS data also shows that payroll jobs worked by people aged under 20 increased 1.5 per cent nationally in the month to August 8, but fell 5.6 per cent in Victoria.
The number of payroll jobs across the country is now roughly 4.9 per cent lower than it was on March 14, when Australia recorded its 100th case of coronavirus, and 30 per cent of the jobs lost were people’s secondary job.
Indeed APAC economist Callam Pickering noted the weekly data was often revised upwards, but said the stalled recovery was still “cause for concern”.
“Obviously Victoria isn’t helping and weakness across Victoria may have spilled over to other states,” he said.
“Policymakers will need to be proactive in the coming months and there should be concern that rates of JobSeeker and JobKeeper are being reduced when unemployment remains so high.
“Clearly many Australian businesses are in a precarious position and that is reflected in their hiring decisions.”