ANKARA — Nearly 600,000 people have lost their jobs in Australia due to the coronavirus pandemic, Anadolu Agency reported.
The unemployment rate in April surged to 6.2 per cent after 594,300 people were made redundant due to the virus lockdown, according to the Australian Associated Press news agency.
“There was a decrease of 220,500 jobs in full-time work and 373,800 people in part-time employment,” it quoted official figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
In March, the rate stood at 5.2 per cent, which jumped after the imposition of strict virus restrictions.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison termed the huge number of people losing their jobs “devastating” and “a very tough day” for Australians.
“Almost 600,000 jobs have been lost, every one of them devastating for those Australians, for their families, for their communities,” he told a press conference on Thursday.
Australians, the premier warned, should prepare themselves for similar announcements as the impact from the shutdowns continued to become clear.
“We knew there would be hard news as the pandemic reaps an impact on Australia, as it is on countries around the world,” he said.
Hence, Morrison said, “we did not wait to put in place the economic support and lifelines that would be needed.”
“This was done many, many weeks ago and at record levels with both the expansion of JobSeeker to support those who could not stay with their employers. And for the first time for so many of them, they would seek unemployment support or indeed the JobKeeper programme, which is doing exactly that. Keeping people in their jobs,” he added.
Earlier this month, Australia’s central bank forecast that the GDP could shrink by 10 per cent in the first half of the year, with unemployment hitting 10 per cent by June and staying elevated through 2021.
Last week, the National Cabinet approved a three-step plan to gradually return the country to work. States started to relax restrictions from Monday and allowed gatherings of up to 10 people, up to five visitors in the family home and some local and regional travel.
Australia has so far reported 6,989 cases with 98 deaths, according to the data by Johns Hopkins University.