Australia recorded its 100th case of COVID-19 on 14 March. Since this time the number of jobs in Australia has decreased by 7.3 per cent and wages have contracted by 5.4 per cent. Accommodation and food services remains the hardest hit industry, experiencing job losses of 27.1 per cent.

The construction industry continues to fare better than the average of all industries, with a decrease in jobs of 6.5 per cent and 2.2 per cent for wages. However, this masks variations between the jurisdictions.

The Australian Capital Territory has experienced the largest decrease in construction jobs at 8.0 per cent, followed by New South Wales at 7.4 per cent and Victoria at 7.3 per cent. South Australia has experienced the least decline in total jobs at 4.8 per cent.

Concerningly, construction industry jobs losses are higher in Western Australia, the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory than the average across all industries.Wages in the construction industry are down 2.2 per cent. All jurisdictions, except the ACT, have experienced wage declines as at 2 May 2020 in comparison to baseline wages at 14 March 2020. Western Australia and Tasmania have experienced the largest drop in wages, both experiencing a decline of 3.4 per cent.The chart below shows changes in construction jobs since Australia’s 100th case of COVID-19 on 14 March 2020.  What we can see from the chart is that job losses appear to be stabilising in some states and territories, although New South Wales, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory continue to experience job declines.At the end of the previous reporting period (18 April 2020) jobs and wages were down across all age categories compared with baseline figures at 14 March 2020.

While this remains true across most age categories for both jobs and wages, the commencement of JobKeeper Payments in the fortnight from 18 April to 2 May has seen wages improve across all age categories and jobs remain reasonably constant in comparison to baseline figures at 14 March 2020.

The most significant change with the introduction of the JobKeeper Payment has been to the wages of workers under 20. These workers are now earning an average of 16.8 per cent more across all industries and 10.8 per cent more in construction than at 14 March. This indicates that workers under 20 typically earnt below the JobKeeper Payment of $750 per week. 

Jennifer Lawrence

Senior Adviser - Industry Policy

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