Australia faces unprecedented levels of job losses as the economy grinds to a halt amid the coronavirus pandemic.
One million people are expected to lose their jobs by as soon as November, new data from the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre suggested earlier this week.
The news came after more than 65,000 workers were stood down in less than a week as employers across multiple sectors shut up shop due to strict social distancing measures.
Casual and part time workers, who make up 36 per cent of Australia’s more than 11-million-strong work force, were especially vulnerable.
Australia’s social welfare system Centrelink experienced lengthy delays and online site crashes as the safety net dealt with an unprecedented number of newly unemployed people.
By August Australia’s unemployment rate is expected to more than double from 5.1 per cent to 11.1 per cent, matching the highest level recorded in 1992, the BCEC figures suggested.
By November, 1.7 million Australians are expected to be out of work.
The state with the most cases of Covid-19, New South Wales, will be hardest-hit, with more than 350,000 job losses followed by Victoria with 277,000.
Sustained job loss is expected with the unemployment figure expected to reach 12.7 per cent by May 2021, the highest figure since unemployment reporting began in 1978.
Furniture manufacturer Jack Ayling was made redundant this week as his employer was forced to scale back operations due to no work.
“Most of our projects were put on hold and I fear many other places that I will apply for will be in the same position for months,” he told dpa.
The 40,000-strong furniture manufacturing industry is just one of many facing extensive cutbacks due to households reducing purchases of durable goods.
The expected loss of jobs in the hospitality industry is set to total 250,000 in three months according to government statistics, as pubs, cafes, and restaurants were deemed “non-essential” and closed due to the pandemic.
Shopping malls have felt the pinch despite remaining open as trekking goods brand Kathmandu and sportwear brand Ripcurl became the latest casualties, closing 124 stores and cutting 1,300 workers on Friday.
The news came after fashion retailers Premier Group and Mosaic Brands collectively shut 2,300 stores and made more than 7,000 staff redundant on Thursday.
The SDA, the trade union representing workers in the retail, fast-food and warehousing industries, said “these disasters are a sign of things to come if the government does not step up with further measures to support the retail sector.”
The government has pumped in billions of dollars already to help ease the effects of the slowdown.
The travel industry has been acutely hit by the pandemic, with travel restrictions and whole country lockdowns forcing major airlines Qantas and Virgin to lay off 20,000 and 18,000 workers respectively.
The news came after airline booking agency Flight Centre cut 3,800 jobs and is in the process of shutting down 100 stores over the next year.
Aviation union, the ASU, said the changes “recognise the reality of the crisis” and are “temporary”. (dpa/NAN)