Roy Morgan Research has released analysis showing that Queensland’s labour market has been hardest hit by the COVID pandemic:
Queensland appears as the big ‘loser’ of the COVID-19 pandemic so far with total unemployment and under-employment in the sunshine state now at 23.5% of the workforce in the June quarter 2021, an increase of 6.6% points since the December quarter 2019 – and now clearly higher than any other State.
In contrast South Australia has handled the pandemic better than any other state on the employment front with total unemployment and under-employment in the State now at 17.4% of the workforce and below the national average – a decline of 6.5% points on December quarter 2019. South Australia has had fewer days in lockdown of any State and is the only mainland State not to experience a lockdown so far during 2021.
Despite spending more time in lockdown than the other States the lowest unemployment and under-employment is again to be found in the two largest States of New South Wales and Victoria. New South Wales had the lowest unemployment and under-employment of any State at 16.5% of the workforce in the June quarter 2021, an increase of 1.3% points while Victoria was second at 17.1% (up 0.1% points).
Western Australia has powered through the pandemic – even recording a Budget surplus during 2020 on the back of mining royalties – and its performance is confirmed by a strengthening employment market with total unemployment and under-employment of 17.3% in the June quarter 2021, down 2.4% points from late 2019.
Tasmania has been largely isolated from the mainland States for much of the pandemic and there has been little change to the island State’s employment picture with total unemployment and under-employment of 21.4% of the workforce in the June quarter 2021, down 0.4% points on late 2019.
These findings make sense.
NSW and Victoria are Australia’s immigration epicentres and have experienced the biggest decline in foreign workers, which has reduced labour supply and lowered unemployment and underemployment.
Queensland, by contrast, has been far less impacted by losses of foreign workers and has also gained residents from NSW and Victoria:
Thus, Queensland’s labour supply has continued to rise throughout the pandemic, which has helped to elevate unemployment and underemployment.