May 01, 2020

2.16 million Australians (15.3% of the workforce) out of work in April – down 248,000 on late March as JobKeeper stops the rise in unemployment

Topic: Press Release, Unemployment
Finding No: 8393
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Roy Morgan’s unemployment measure for April shows a massive 2.16 million Australians were unemployed (15.3% of the workforce), with an additional 1.32 million (9.4%) under-employed.

In total 3.5 million (24.7% of the workforce) Australians are now either unemployed or under-employed. This is 439,000 fewer than the 3.92 million unemployed or under-employed (27.4% of the workforce) during the last two weeks of March (March 20-31, 2020) immediately before the Federal Government’s JobKeeper program was announced.

Latest Roy Morgan employment series data for April shows:

  • The workforce in April was 14,150,000 – comprised of 11,991,000 employed and 2,159,000 unemployed Australians looking for work. The workforce total is down 152,000 since late March; 
  • The number of Australians in employment in April was up 96,000 from late March to 11,991,000. Full-time employment was up 89,000 to 7,826,000 and part-time employment was up 7,000 to 4,165,000;
  • Australians looking for work was a record monthly high of 2,159,000, but down 248,000 on late March. The number looking for full-time work increased by 41,000 to 1,001,000 since late March while the number looking for part-time work was down by 289,000 to 1,158,000;
  • Roy Morgan’s unemployment figure of 15.3% for April is now almost three times higher than the current ABS estimate for March 2020 of 5.2%The ABS figure for March was based on interviews conducted in reference to early March (pre shut-downs) and did not include data related to the situation in late March (post shut-downs).

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source October 2005 – April 2020. Average monthly interviews 4,000.

Additional research into the impact of COVID-19 Coronavirus has revealed 10.5 million working Australians (68%) have had a change to their employment situation.

Australians in the workforce were asked: “As a result of the Coronavirus Crisis, have you experienced any of the following employment changes.” Some people reported several changes to their working conditions since the Coronavirus like being stood down, having reduced hours and working from home. This reflects the changing nature of the situation for companies and employees as they navigate the crisis.

The impacts on workers include:

ALL employment changes mentioned* MOST SERIOUS employment change mentioned
Having work hours reduced 3.8m (25%) 1.9m (12%)
Stood down for a period of time 2.7m (18%) 2.4m (15%)
Had an increase in their work hours 2.5m (16%) 1.5m (10%)
Not had any work offered 2.4m (16%) 1.2m (8%)
Had their pay reduced for same number of work hours 1.4m (9%) 320,000 (2%)
Been made redundant 670,000 (4%) 670,000 (4%)
Some other change to employment (including working from home) 3.4m (22%) 2.7m (17%)
TOTAL Had a change to employment 10.5m (68%) 10.5m (68%)

*The figures in the ‘ALL employment changes mentioned’ column add to over 100% as many respondents mentioned more than one employment change they’ve had because of the coronavirus. **’Working from home’ was not offered as an option for those answering the survey. Those who mentioned ‘working from home’ had answered ‘some other change to employment’ and were separated out due to the large number of respondents mentioning this employment change.

For the 3.4 million (22%) who cite ‘some other change to their employment’ this includes working from home, being put on enforced leave, changes in work rostering, social distancing measures at work, split shifts, an increase in responsibility, a halt to business growth, precautions put in place at work, being in a vulnerable group for COVID-19 so not being able to take work and an inability to see clients face-to-face.

There are further details available here about the impact COVID-19 Coronavirus has had on the employment situation of working Australians.

Michele Levine, CEO Roy Morgan, says the COVID-19 Coronavirus struck the Australian economy like a ‘hammer blow’ in late March as Governments around the country enforced strict shutdowns to limit the movement of people and the virus:

Block Quote
“Roy Morgan’s unemployment measure for April shows 2.16 million Australians were unemployed (15.3% of the workforce) with an additional 1.32 million (9.4%) under-employed.
“In total a massive 3.5 million (24.7%) Australians are now either unemployed or under-employed. This is 439,000 fewer than the 3.92 million (27.4%) during the last two weeks of March (March 20-31, 2020) immediately before the Federal Government’s JobKeeper program was announced.
“Special research undertaken by Roy Morgan during April has revealed that 3.8 million working Australians have had their working hours reduced, 2.7 million have been stood down for a period of time, 2.4 million have not had any work offered, 1.4 million have had their pay reduced for the same number of work hours and 670,000 have already been made redundant. Some will have had two or more of the above impacts already on their employment.
“Those most heavily impacted face a challenging employment market in the months ahead even as the harshest restrictions are rolled back. Several States and Territories are now announcing the relaxation of restrictions during May and June while others, including Victoria, have yet to announce any plan to do so prior to a review of conditions next week.
“The changed economic and employment landscape will start to normalise but with a much larger pool of unemployed and under-utilised workers there will be a far more competitive jobs market for employers to pick from. There will be no ‘snapback’ which means all, or even most, newly unemployed Australians are back in their original jobs in the next few months.”

Roy Morgan Unemployed and ‘Under-employed’* Estimates

Unemployed or

‘Under-employed’*

Unemployed Unemployed looking for ‘Under-employed’*
Full-time Part-time
2019 ‘000 % ‘000 % ‘000 ‘000 ‘000 %
Jan-Mar 2019 2,604 19.2 1,345 9.9 635 701 1,259 9.3
Apr-Jun 2019 2,490 18.2 1,260 9.2 626 634 1,229 9.0
Jul-Sep 2019 2,261 16.6 1,188 8.7 520 667 1,074 7.9
Oct-Dec 2019 2,374 17.1 1,134 8.2 536 598 1,240 8.9
2020      
Jan-Mar 2020 2,692 19.1 1,417 10.1 638 779 1,275 9.0
Months      
March 2019 2,812 20.6 1,491 10.9 731 760 1,321 9.7
April 2019 2,381 17.7 1,202 8.9 599 603 1,179 8.8
May 2019 2,559 18.4 1,325 9.5 674 651 1,234 8.9
June 2019 2,529 18.6 1,254 9.2 605 649 1,275 9.4
July 2019 2,480 18.3 1,182 8.7 526 656 1,298 9.6
August 2019 2,130 15.8 1,179 8.7 454 725 951 7.1
September 2019 2,174 15.7 1,202 8.7 581 621 972 7.0
October 2019 2,307 16.7 1,075 7.8 441 634 1,232 8.9
November 2019 2,226 16.1 1,122 8.1 549 573 1,104 8.0
December 2019 2,588 18.6 1,205 8.7 619 587 1,383 9.9
January 2020 2,586 18.4 1,361 9.7 713 648 1,225 8.7
February 2020 2,443 17.3 1,174 8.3 517 658 1,269 9.0
March 2020 (Total) 3,046 21.6 1,715 12.2 684 1,030 1,331 9.4
March 2020 (Early) 2,161 15.6 1,019 7.3 402 617 1,142 8.2
March 2020 (Late) 3,923 27.4 2,407 16.8 960 1,447 1,516 10.6
April 2020 3,484 24.7 2,159 15.3 1,001 1,158 1,325 9.4

*Workforce includes those employed and those looking for work – the unemployed.

This Roy Morgan survey on Australia’s unemployment and under-employed’* is based on weekly face-to-face interviews of 677,504 Australians aged 14 and over between January 2007 and April 2020, and includes 6,018 telephone and online interviews in April 2020. *The ‘under-employed’ are those people who are in part-time work or freelancers who are looking for more work.

For further information:

Contact Office Mobile
Gary Morgan: +61 3 9224 5213 +61 411 129 094
Michele Levine: +61 3 9224 5215 +61 411 129 093

Unemployment Data Tables

ROY MORGAN MEASURES REAL UNEMPLOYMENT IN AUSTRALIA
NOT THE ‘PERCEPTION’ OF UNEMPLOYMENT – JUNE 8, 2012

The Roy Morgan Unemployment estimate is obtained by surveying an Australia-wide cross section by face-to-face interviews. A person is classified as unemployed if they are looking for work, no matter when. The results are not seasonally adjusted and provide an accurate measure of monthly unemployment estimates in Australia.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics Unemployment estimates are obtained by mostly telephone interviews. Households selected for the ABS Survey are interviewed each month for eight months, with one-eighth of the sample being replaced each month. The first interview is conducted face-to-face. Subsequent interviews are then conducted by telephone.

The ABS classifies a person as unemployed if, when surveyed, they have been actively looking for work in the four weeks up to the end of the reference week and if they were available for work in the reference week.

The ABS classifies a person as employed if, when surveyed, a person worked for one hour or more during the reference week for pay, profit, commission or payment in kind, or even if a person worked for one hour or more without pay in a family business or on a farm.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics Unemployment estimates are also seasonally adjusted.

For these reasons the Australian Bureau of Statistics Unemployment estimates are different from the Roy Morgan Unemployment estimate. Gary Morgan's concerns regarding the ABS Unemployment estimate is clearly outlined in his letter to the Australian Financial Review, which was not published.

For comments or more information please contact:
Roy Morgan - Enquiries
Office: +61 (03) 9224 5309
askroymorgan@roymorgan.com

Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size Percentage Estimate
40% – 60% 25% or 75% 10% or 90% 5% or 95%
1,000 ±3.0 ±2.7 ±1.9 ±1.3
5,000 ±1.4 ±1.2 ±0.8 ±0.6
7,500 ±1.1 ±1.0 ±0.7 ±0.5
10,000 ±1.0 ±0.9 ±0.6 ±0.4
20,000 ±0.7 ±0.6 ±0.4 ±0.3
50,000 ±0.4 ±0.4 ±0.3 ±0.2

Related Findings

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