As social restrictions continue to be successful in helping to suppress the spread of COVID-19, governments must increasingly put their minds to measures that will address the economic crisis that has resulted from the measures to address the health emergency.

Jennifer Lawrence, Senior Industry Policy Adviser tells us about what the latest ABS data shows about jobs losses in our industry so far. 

In the three weeks from Australia’s 100th confirmed case of COVID-19 on 14 March 2020 total jobs decreased by 6.0 per cent. The construction industry fared slightly better than average with a decrease of 5.3 per cent. Accommodation and food services was the hardest hit industry, experiencing job losses 25.6 per cent.

Looking at the construction industry on a state by state basis, we see declines in the number of jobs and in total wages across all jurisdictions. The Northern Territory lost the least percentage of jobs at 2.8 per cent, but concurrently saw the largest drop in wages at 5.8 per cent.

In most states, excluding Queensland and South Australia, the percentage of job losses was lower in construction than across all industries.  Decreases in wages were less pronounced in construction than across all industries, with the exception of South Australia.

Chart 1: Percentage change in number of jobs by state, 14 March to 4 April 2020Table 1: Change in number of jobs and employee wages by state, 14 March to 4 April

% change

Aus

NSW

Vic

Qld

SA

WA

Tas

NT

ACT

Jobs

Construction

-5.3

-5.6

-5.6

-5.2

-6

-4.3

-3.9

-2.8

-3.4

All industries

-6.0

-6.4

-6.8

-5.0

-5.2

-5.2

-7.3

-4.8

-5.5

Wages

Construction

-3.6

-4.3

-2.7

-4.2

-3.0

-3.0

-2.7

-5.8

-2.8

All industries

-6.7

-6.1

-8.8

-5.6

-2.2

-6.3

-7.5

-17.6

-5.7


Looking across all industries and working age groups in Australia from 14 March to 4 April, those under 20 years experienced the steepest decline in the number of job and in wages, 9.9 per cent and 12.7 per cent, respectively. 

For the construction industry, on the other hand, it was those at the other end of the age spectrum, aged 70 and over, that experienced the largest decline in jobs and wages. Interestingly though, the construction cohort that experienced the least decline in wages, at only 2.0 per cent, was those aged 60 to 69 years.

Table 2: Change in number of jobs and wages by age, 14 March to 4 April

% change

Aus

< 20

20-29

30-39

40-49

50-59

60-69

70+

Jobs

Construction

-5.3

-4.5

-5.4

-5.1

-4.9

-4.5

-4.6

-9.4

All industries

-6.0

-9.9

-8.8

-5.5

-4.3

-3.8

-4.0

-9.7

Wages

Construction

-3.6

-2.2

-4.3

-4.0

-3.3

-2.4

-2.0

-6.0

All industries

-6.7

-12.7

-9.1

-6.5

-6.2

-5.5

-5.7

-6.3

 
Source: Master Builders Australia analysis of ABS 6160.0, Weekly Payroll Jobs and Wages in Australia, week ending 4 April 2020

 

Jennifer Lawrence

Senior Adviser - Industry Policy

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