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Ai Group comment on employment data

"Today's labour force data should put to rest any complacency about the severity of the current downturn," Mr Willox, Chief Executive of Ai Group said today.

"The estimated loss of jobs in May of 227,700 brings the total loss of jobs to 835,000 since March. This means that in just three months we have lost more than the total number of additional positions created since April 2017. Our workforce worked more than 10 per cent fewer hours in May than in March.

"While the ABS rightly cautions about the understatement inherent in the official unemployment rate of 7.1 per cent, just three months into the current crisis we have already exceeded the peak unemployment rate reached during the GFC. At the same time, the great strides made in lifting the participation rate over two decades, have been wiped out in a matter of months.

"Undoubtedly the impacts of this crisis on the labour force have been insulated by the range of government programs and particularly the JobKeeper wage subsidy and income support measure. JobKeeper is helping maintain the links between employers and employees and it will be critical that these links are maintained over the coming months as businesses prepare for the scheduled end of the program in September.

"Regardless of whether further fiscal support is required post-September, it is very clear that we need to embark on a concerted effort to ensure that we quickly regain all the lost ground and then build to a new phase of growth. Among other areas this will require much-needed changes in our education and training arrangements and will require recreating opportunities in our enterprise bargaining arrangements to lift business competitiveness and create sustainable jobs," Mr Willox said.

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