Today’s ABS Labour Force Figures (released for July 2021) reveal unemployment down to 4.6% nationally. But this conceals impacts from lockdowns in NSW. Hours worked fell by more than 7% between June and July. And underemployment (+85,000 people) and underutilisation (+59,600 people) are increasing after recent lows.
From previous lockdowns, we know the most affected sectors (arts and recreation, hospitality, retail) have high rates of precarious employment. Insecure workers have limited access to savings or safety nets. These figures represent real people in desperate need of paid pandemic support measures. We know the best way to stop COVID-19 is to restrict movement but not everyone can work from home. Those who can’t need financial support to ensure they’re not forced to go to work sick.