Queenslanders ‘struggling’ as jobless rate soars
THE number of Queenslanders who've lost their jobs amid the COVID-19 pandemic has soared to 167,900.
Revised figures have revealed 139,800 people became unemployed in April with 28,100 losing their job in May.
Treasurer Cameron Dick today quoted the saying that employment goes up via the stairs but goes down via the lift.
"Behind these statistics lies a Queenslander and their family who are struggling at this time," he said.
"Our strong health response means that they might not be ill with COVID-19 but they are struggling none the less."
Mr Dick said although Queensland had avoided the worst of the pandemic so far, the economy remained "very seriously ill".
"We must all work together to help it recover as quickly and as comprehensively as possible," he said.
The Queensland figures come after it was revealed that nationally 227,700 jobs had been lost in May, pushing the unemployment rate to 7.1 per cent, the highest level since 2001, according to new figures.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics labour force figures showed unemployment increased by 85,700 people to 927,600, pushing the unemployment rate up by 0.7 percentage points.
ABS head of labour statistics Bjorn Jarvis said the new figures took total job losses since March to 835,000.
"In two months, the percentage of people aged 15 and over employed in Australia decreased from around 62.5 per cent to around 58.7 per cent," he said.
The rise in the unemployment rate was buffered by another fall in the participation rate of 0.7 points as more workers left the labour force.
"The ABS estimates that a combined group of around 2.3 million people - around 1 in 5 employed people - were affected by either job loss between April and May or had less hours than usual for economic reasons in May," Mr Jarvis said.
Economists had been predicting job losses of 79,000 and an unemployment rate of 6.9 per cent.
Monthly hours worked fell another 0.7 per cent in May and are down 10.3 per cent since March.
The under-utilisation rate, which combines the unemployment and underemployment rates, rose to a new record high of 20.2 per cent.
"Women continued to be more adversely affected by the labour market deterioration than men. Younger workers have also been particularly impacted," Mr Jarvis said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said even though the numbers were heartbreaking "they were not surprising" and the nation should brace itself for further bad news.
He pointed out the figures were taken at the height of the national shutdown, before state and territory economies launched into the three-step road map to reopening.
"These are our dark times, but I can see that ray of light, and I'm sure Australians can see that, too but we have to keep moving towards it and work harder each and every day," Mr Morrison said.
However he believed the official unemployment rate of 7.1 per cent did "understate where things are on the ground".
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the "devastating" figures revealed the "true pain and hurt that Australians are going through as a result of the coronavirus".
"These numbers reveal the scale of the challenge we face and the mountain we have to climb," he said.
Originally published as Queenslanders 'struggling' as jobless rate soars