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Queensland job market 'hit hardest' by pandemic

Business

Queensland’s level of unemployment and under-employed was 23.5 per cent which made it the worst performing state and the biggest loser from the pandemic, according to Roy Morgan research.

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That June level was a 6.5 per cent increase on the same month last year.

Queensland’s dependence on tourism was a major factor in the under performance and a recent report from Tourism Research Australia found that Queensland’s tourism industry had lost as much as $13 billion because of travel restrictions. That was effectively half the normal income for the sector in 2019.

The survey showed there were 2.65 million, or 17.9 per cent of the workforce, who are either unemployed or under-employed – and this figure was before the current three-week long lockdown in Sydney which may well be extended.

The company, which assesses the unemployed very differently to the accepted figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, including the use of face to face interviews, said despite spending more time in lockdown than the other states, the lowest unemployment and under-employment was in the NSW and Victoria.

It said Western Australia had powered through the pandemic and its performance is confirmed by a strengthening employment market with total unemployment and under-employment of 17.3 per cent in the June quarter 2021, down 2.4 per cent points from late 2019.

Chief executive Michele Levine said since the pandemic hit Australia in mid-March 2020 the economy has managed to grow by 1.1 per cent over the year to March 2021 when most comparable countries experienced a prolonged contraction.

“This growth despite the challenge of COVID-19 has under-pinned a fairly strong performance on the employment front – although there have been ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ as well,’’ she said.

“The biggest loser of the pandemic on the employment front has been the tourism-dependent Queensland which has seen total unemployment and under-employment soar from 16.9 per cent of the workforce in the December quarter 2019 to 23.5 per cent in the June quarter 2021 – an increase of 6.6 per cent points.

“The increase in Queensland is fairly evenly spread between an increase in unemployment by 3 per centage points to 11 per cent and an increase in under-employment by 3.7 per centage points to 12.6 per cent over this period. 

“The tourism industry in Queensland has been hard hit by the continuing closure of international borders and the snap border closures whenever there has been a domestic outbreak of COVID-19 has added tremendous uncertainty to any domestic holiday bookings for people from Sydney and Melbourne.

“The resilience of NSW and Victoria is impressive as Sydney and Melbourne have experienced longer lockdowns, and far more outbreaks of COVID-19, than any other cities. “What these unemployment estimates do show is that the RBA was right to hold interest rates at a record low of 0.1 per cent this week as there is still far too much unemployment and under-employment in the Australian economy to consider raising interest rates at present.’’

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