In his May 14 Sydney Morning Herald article, Shane Wright states “government policies to definitions of employment – cloud the true state of the jobs market”. Wright shows there are many complex considerations to grasping the full effects of the Australian Government’s Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19) driven restrictions, such as the shutdown of services and social distancing measures, and their impact on employment. Wright claims that worked hours and participation rate strengthen our ability to make sense of this complexity in employment data.
We explored this claim, using the expertly curated and spatially enabled data available through the Australian Urban Research Infrastructure Network (AURIN) Map to examine the impact of the Government’s response to COVID-19 on Australia’s employment participation rate.
We analyzed The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Labour Force by age, labour market region (ASGS) and sex – participation rate (%) and unemployment rate (%) from March and April, overlaying thematic maps on AURIN’s base map and utilizing the slide function in AURIN Map to represent the changes over time.
The ABS data capture a decrease in participation rate for several SA4 areas across Australia, as well as new lows in areas such as Wide Bay, Coffs Harbour-Grafton and Mid North Coast (Map 1). Unemployment rates increased in several capital cities and were exacerbated in regional cities such as Toowoomba and Shepperton (Map 2).
Map 1 – Changes in Labour Force Participation
Map 2 – Labour Force Unemployment Rate
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact many industries, and this opens a large gamut of research possibilities. Detailed analysis will be needed to better understand these complex issues, such as changes by employment type and industry. AURIN’s quality data and expertise enables the analysis of trends to help better understand and respond to the social, environmental, economic and health challenges faced by our towns, cities and regions.
In coming weeks, we will continue to look at the impacts of COVID-19 on Australia’s town, cities and communities. Please let us know if you would like to participate.