Ads for jobs in the hospitality and tourism sector are now 82 per cent down on the same period last year, while those in childcare have slumped 79 per cent.
Even in the “least worst” areas, there have been big falls. Nursing ads are down by 32 per cent while personal care ads have dropped by 34 per cent.
Indeed’s Asia-Pacific chief economist, Callam Pickering, said there were some tentative signs the bottom had been reached with a slight tick-up in new ads in recent days.
“But in terms of a real lift or improvement, it’s entirely reliant on when the restrictions to control the virus start to ease,” he said.
Separate research released on Wednesday by Westpac shows a surge in those losing their weekly wage.
As part of its regular monthly measure of consumer sentiment, which showed a 17.7 per cent drop in confidence last month, the bank asked people about their employment prospects. Seven per cent of those surveyed had lost their jobs while another 14 per cent had been stood down without pay.
“This survey result implies that over one in five workers have lost their entire wage income,” Westpac chief economist Bill Evans said.
That lost income is directly affecting retail spending.
Commonwealth Bank, tracking activity through its debit and credit cards, said the contraction in shopping had accelerated in the week ending April 10. Spending is down by 58 per cent on clothing, 61 per cent on personal care and 37 per cent on recreation.
It appears the hoarding evident in mid-March has come to an end, with weekly sales of alcohol now falling while the rate of increase in supermarket spending is also easing.
Economists are expecting the jobless rate in March to jump to 5.4 per cent, from 5.1 per cent the previous month. The International Monetary Fund has forecast Australia’s unemployment to average 7.6 per cent this year before increasing to 8.9 per cent in 2021.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the fund’s forecasts, which includes a prediction the economy will contract by 6.7 per cent this year, did not fully take into account the government’s $130 billion JobKeeper wage subsidy.
But the deputy director of the IMF’s Asia and Pacific department, Jonathan Ostry, told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age while the Morrison government, states and the Reserve Bank of Australia were delivering sizeable support to the economy, a jobs recovery would take time.
“Businesses will face significant uncertainty in the early recovery phase and many firms will need to restore their balance sheets before they begin hiring again, which will take some time,” he said.
“Past recoveries from large recessions show a similar pattern, with activity picking up first, followed by a recovery in [the] labor market with a significant time lag.”
The education and tourism sectors may take the longest to recover from virus-related shutdowns.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics reported overseas tourist numbers in February were 26 per cent down on the same month last year. Chinese visitor numbers crashed by 90 per cent, with just 19,500 tourists – the smallest monthly result since January 2004.
International student numbers fell by 62,590 or 34 per cent. Students at the nation’s universities tumbled by 61 per cent in the month, with March expected to show a further reduction.
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Shane is a senior economics correspondent for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald.