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How public service jobs rose as Australia’s labour market saw a 4.5 per cent employment plunge

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Public service job numbers have increased and pushed up government debt as the coronavirus crisis has decimated Australia’s private-sector workforce.

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures released on Tuesday showed payroll jobs overall have plunged by 4.5 per cent since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The hardest hit hospitality sector has suffered a 17.9 per cent jobs plummet since mid-March, while arts and recreation has dived by 15.1 per cent. 

Job numbers in the public service have increased even as Australia's overall labour market has shrunk, new data showed. Pictured is an Australia Post recruitment ad

Job numbers in the public service have increased even as Australia’s overall labour market has shrunk, new data showed. Pictured is an Australia Post recruitment ad

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, payroll job overall have plunged by 4.5 per cent. Hospitality jobs in food and accommodation plummeted by an even more dramatic 17.9 per cent as arts and recreational services dived by 15.1 per cent. Pictured is an April Centrelink queue in Melbourne

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, payroll job overall have plunged by 4.5 per cent. Hospitality jobs in food and accommodation plummeted by an even more dramatic 17.9 per cent as arts and recreational services dived by 15.1 per cent. Pictured is an April Centrelink queue in Melbourne

Between March 14 and July 25, however, the number of public service jobs, classified as public administration and safety, rose by 1.7 per cent, the ABS figures revealed.

Unemployment during June amid COVID-19

Australia’s unemployment rate climbed from a 19-year high of 7.1 per cent in May to 7.4 per cent in June – the highest since November 1998

Number without work climbed from 923,000 to a record-high 992,300

Close to a million people unemployed for the first time ever – surpassing 960,200 record set in December 1992

Unemployment increased even though 210,800 more people were employed as COVID-19 shutdowns eased

That was because the participation rate increased from 62.7 per cent to 64 per cent as more people looked for work

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics labour force data for June 

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The category includes law-enforcement officers and those employed within the court and prison system. 

Apart from taxpayer-funded public servants, only workers in the electricity, gas and sewage sectors saw employment growth through the lockdowns, with their numbers increasing 0.8 per cent.

Mining rose by a small 0.2 per cent as China continued to buy Australian iron ore, used to make steel. 

The numbers were released three weeks after Treasury’s Economic and Fiscal Update predicted gross government debt would reach a record $852billion by the end of this financial year.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government has already spent $164.1billion on stimulus measures as the coronavirus business shutdowns pushed the Australian economy into recession for the first time in 29 years.

The Reserve Bank of Australia is expecting the national unemployment rate, now at a 22-year high of 7.4 per cent, to reach ten per cent by the end of 2020 – a level unseen since April 1994.

As recently as May, the central bank was forecasting a nine per cent jobless rate peak but the Stage 4 lockdowns in Melbourne have changed that.

Even before the lockdowns, Victoria was already the worst-affected state with its payroll numbers in four months plunging by 6.7 per cent – a level well above the national average of 4.5 per cent.

Across all industries, wages dived by 4.8 per cent between March and July however mining, the highest-paid sector, saw an even sharper 19.9 per cent plunge. 

Between March 14 and July 25, however, the number of public service jobs, classified as public administration and safety, rose by 1.7 per cent, the Australian Bureau of Statistics has revealed. Pictured is a Department of Finance recruitment ad

Between March 14 and July 25, however, the number of public service jobs, classified as public administration and safety, rose by 1.7 per cent, the Australian Bureau of Statistics has revealed. Pictured is a Department of Finance recruitment ad

The Australian Bureau of Statistics numbers were released three weeks after Treasury's Economic and Fiscal Update predicted gross government debt would reach a record $852billion by the end of this financial year

The Australian Bureau of Statistics numbers were released three weeks after Treasury’s Economic and Fiscal Update predicted gross government debt would reach a record $852billion by the end of this financial year

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