Unemployment surges to 6.2% amid virus shutdowns
Queues outside Centrelink offices in March sparked fears of massive job losses. Photo: AAP
Australia’s unemployment rate has posted its steepest monthly rise on record, with 594,300 people losing their jobs in April as restrictions to limit coronavirus shut thousands of businesses and affected many more.
However, the official jobless rate published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics only climbed by 1 percentage point, from 5.2 to 6.2 per cent in April, because of a slump in the proportion of people looking for work.
“The large drop in employment did not translate into a similar-sized rise in the number of unemployed people because around 489,800 people left the labour force,” observed Bjorn Jarvis, the head of labour statistics at the ABS.
Mr Jarvis said that the 2.4-percentage-point slump in the participation rate – those people either in work or actively looking for it – was unprecedented.
“This means there was a high number of people without a job who didn’t or couldn’t actively look for work or weren’t available for work,” he explained.
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