Australia / From the Founder
New and lost jobs in 2020

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by Phil Ruthven AM, Founder IBISWorld
Dec 21 2020

After producing many times more jobs than we lost for decades, it came as a shock to discover Australia lost more jobs than we created in 2020. Over the 12 months ending September 2020, the nation lost over 526,000 jobs and created just 192,000 new ones. This represents a net loss of almost 334,000 jobs, or slightly less than 3% of the total number of jobs in September 2019.

Over the seven months through September 2020, we worked 6.2% fewer hours due to lockdown measures, border closures and other restrictions implemented to contain the spread of COVID-19.

The chart below shows where jobs have been lost and created in terms of industry divisions.

Tourism and hospitality have clearly taken the biggest hit, accounting for over a third of the job losses, as accommodation, restaurants, transport, entertainment and tourist retailing have all been restricted. Interestingly, the secondary industries (manufacturing, utilities and construction) account for less than 8% of the job losses.

Of the near-200,000 new jobs, four industry divisions stood out: public administration and safety (government); finance and insurance; agriculture and health and social assistance.

The chart below is a reminder of the pain, albeit ameliorated by welfare support via the JobKeeper Payment scheme and other stimulus measures.

At the same time, the chart above reminds us of the greater pain of our elders and departed forebears.

Less than half of today’s workforce were working at all during the previous recession in 1991-92. Therefore, 2020 was an enormous shock, especially in the middle of the year when those not working (but receiving welfare payments) reached 12.0%, a level not recorded since 1935.

Overall, it’s nice to know things are on the mend going into 2021 and beyond, even if we will be carrying more debt—much more debt—to fight our way to GDP growth and full employment by the middle of the decade.