One in Four Australians Worked Fewer Hours in First Week of April

(Bloomberg) --

Some 24% of Australians worked less than normal in the first week of April, a survey by the statistician on the impact of the coronavirus showed, and those reporting they no longer had any paid employment jumped.

Among employees receiving fewer hours because of the epidemic, 60% said it was due to a reduction in work available, while 15% said it was because they had been stood down by their employer, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said in its COVID-19 impacts on households released Monday.

“The survey found that the proportion of people who had a job fell by 3 percentage points between early March and early April,” said Michelle Marquardt, ABS program manager for household surveys. The poll was conducted between March 31 and April 6.

The outcome underscores Reserve Bank Governor Philip Lowe’s view that hours worked will be a key metric to gauge the labor market hit from the coronavirus lockdowns. The government’s JobKeeper initiative that keeps workers attached to employers during the shutdown, and an expected drop in labor force participation, are likely to limit some of the increase in the official jobless rate.

Economists predict 600,000 jobs were shed in April and unemployment rate surged to 8.3% from 5.2% in March, ahead of labor force data due Thursday. The participation rate is expected to have fallen to 65.3% from 66%.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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