The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has today revealed the unemployment rate rose by one percentage point to 6.2 per cent between March and April.
On face value the number of unemployed people increased by 104,500 for the period, but seasonaly adjusted employment fell by a much larger figure of 594,300.
The reason for this discrepancy is that almost half a million people in Australia simply left the labour force, meaning they weren't actively looking or available for work.
"The large drop in employment did not translate into a similar sized rise in the number of unemployed people because around 489,800 people left the labour force", says ABS head of labour statistics Bjorn Jarvis.
As a result Australia's participation rate, meaning the proportion of people either working or actively looking for work, has dropped by a whopping 2.4 percentage points to 63.5 per cent.
But the situation is worse when you consider cuts to people's hours, which the ABS has described as "extensive" in the wake of COVID-19 shutdowns. Total hours worked fell 9.2 per cent between March and April.
The bureau explains 2.7 million people - or one in five who were employed before the crisis hit - either left employment or had their hours reduced between March and April.
As a result, the number of underemployed people also rose sharply (up 603,300 people, to a total of 1.8 million people), and the underemployment rate rose to a record high 13.7 per cent (up 4.9 percentage points).
The underutilisation rate, which combines the unemployment and underemployment rates, also rose to a record high of 19.9 per cent.
The falls in employment and hours in April were consistent with the fall in payroll jobs for employers reporting through the Single Touch Payroll system published in the recent releases of Weekly Payroll Jobs and Wages in Australia.
That data showed a fall of around 607,000 paid jobs in Single Touch Payroll enabled employers over the same period.
Updated at Noon AEST on 14 May 2020
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