Women bearing brunt of virus-induced job hit


In the healthcare sector, the ABS found while 9 per cent of employers had temporarily increased staff hours, 44 per cent had cut them. Seventeen per cent had put staff on unpaid leave.

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Of the 1.8 million people employed in health and social services, almost 1.4 million are women.

Accommodation and food services employs 935,000 people, of whom 516,000 are women. Seventy per cent of these firms have cut work hours, 43 per cent have put staff on unpaid leave and 29 per cent have workers on paid leave.

In the female-heavy retail sector, which employs 1.3 million people, there’s been an 8 per cent lift in working hours. Most of those have been in supermarkets. But 37 per cent of businesses have cut staff hours, with 13 per cent of workers on unpaid leave.

Male-dominated industries including agriculture, mining and manufacturing have been relatively untouched by the anti-virus measures.

Construction, which employs almost 1.2 million people, of whom 1 million are men, has suffered the largest impact of male-dominated industries, with 23 per cent of firms cutting staff hours.

Some of the fallout from the coronavirus on the jobs market will revealed in next week’s March employment report, with analysts tipping a lift in unemployment to 5.4 per cent from 5.1 per cent. The median forecast is for the loss of 30,000 jobs, which would be the worst one-month drop since December 2013.

The survey largely covers the first half of the month, before the widespread shutdown of businesses in the final fortnight of March.

NAB senior economist Tapas Strickland is warning the unemployment rate could jump to 5.7 per cent in March, with 90,000 jobs disappearing.

“Next month is likely to see an even sharper rise in unemployment given tougher containment measures were introduced from mid‑March onwards and the jobless rate could reach 12 per cent by mid-year,” he said.

Mr Strickland said the jobs figures might not give a full insight into the employment prospects facing Australian workers. Someone on unpaid leave who expected to return to their job would be counted as employed even though they did not work.

He said there was likely to be a drop in the number of people looking for work, which could also limit the official unemployment rate.

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