March unemployment lifts marginally but warnings of big jumps ahead


Despite the shutdowns, the ABS said total hours worked actually lifted by 0.7 per cent.

Unemployment rose to 4.8 per cent in NSW (from 4.6 per cent), 6.2 per cent in South Australia (from 5.8 per cent), 5.7 per cent in Queensland (from 5.6 per cent) and 5.4 per cent in Western Australia (from 5.2 per cent).

It actually fell in Victoria, to 5.2 per cent from 5.3 per cent, while it was steady in Tasmania (5 per cent), the NT (5.5 per cent) and the ACT (3 per cent).

Total employment across Australia lifted by 5900 through the month. All of that was due to the part-time sector, with an increase of 6400. Full-time worker numbers dropped by 400.

Since March last year, full-time employment has lifted by 91,700 while part-time is up by 136,000.

ABS chief economist Bruce Hockman cautioned the full impact of the coronavirus would be clear in the April figures.

“Today’s data shows some small early impact from COVID-19 on the Australian labour market in early March, but any impact from the major COVID-19-related actions will be evident in the April data,” he said.

Research by online search company Indeed shows job advertisements started collapsing in mid-March as social distancing restrictions and travel bans were put in place.

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.

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