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COVID19 CRISIS

Unemployment surges

June 2020

More than 40,000 South Australians lost their jobs in April amid government-imposed coronavirus restrictions and shutdown measures.

The latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) show that about 40,800 South Australians lost their jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis.

About half of the jobs that disappeared - 20,100 - were full-time positions.

The state’s unemployment rate rose from 6.3 per cent in March to 7.2 per cent — the highest rate of any state or territory in the country.

It is also the highest rate since a peak in August last year.

Only 5,600 of those who lost their jobs joined the JobSeeker queues.

The other 35,200 left the labour force altogether and stopped looking for work, meaning they are excluded from the ABS’s definition of the unemployment rate.

The SA Council of Social Service’s (SACOSS) executive director Ross Womersley said the April jobs figures were "particularly horrifying".

"They confirm some of our worst fears, that huge numbers of people have lost employment," he said.

"And if they haven’t lost their job entirely, huge numbers of people have lost work and are experiencing hardship as a result.

"It may be 12 months … before the opportunity to resume employment emerges for many people, so in that period of time, they’re going to be experiencing enormous reductions in their financial capacity.

"That’s going to cause hardship when the bills start to stack up."

He called on the South Australian Government to increase the number of financial counsellors in the state.

In response to the figures, SA Premier Steven Marshall said "we’ve got two problems in South Australia".

"We have got 40,000 people who have lost their jobs, but we also have massive underemployment in South Australia," he said.

"These figures were taken four weeks ago, and we hope there is increased consumer confidence and business confidence [now] … and that we can start to see more hours being worked," he said.

"But it’s very tough times right across the country and, in this situation, right across the globe."

SA Minister for Innovation and Skills David Pisoni said the State Government was responding quickly to the crisis.

"This is the greatest economic challenge of our time, which is why the Government is responding swiftly and decisively to ensure as many businesses and jobs as possible make it through to the other side," Mr Pisoni said.

South Australia was not the only state to record significant job losses amid the coronavirus crisis — a total of 594,300 jobs were lost across Australia in April.

The largest hit was recorded in New South Wales with 221,400 jobs lost, followed by Queensland with 129,600 lost.

Overall, the ABS estimates that 2.7 million people across Australia either lost their job or had their hours reduced between March and April.


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