Lockdowns cause hours worked to fall below pre-pandemic levels

In August, according to the latest ABS Labour Force data, total hours worked were well below March 2020 levels in NSW (-11.1%), and they were 2.9% below nationally and 0.9% below in Queensland (see the chart below). Victoria was slightly above its March 2020 level of hours worked, but that could reflect sampling error. Overall, the data are showing what we’d expect, that lockdowns are restricting economic activity across the impacted states. While Queensland has been in lockdown less than other states, and only for around one week in August, we are still being impacted by the loss of interstate visitors from NSW and Victoria.

Hours worked in Australia, NSW, and Queensland have fallen to below March 2020 levels.

As others have commented, the unemployment rate has become a pretty useless indicator of the current state of the economy, given the falls in workforce participation (i.e. people are giving up looking for work) which are suppressing the official unemployment rate. Pete Faulkner has calculated that the effective unemployment rate for Australia is 7.3% (compared with a 4.5% headline rate) and the effective unemployment rate for Queensland is 6.0% (compared with a headline rate of 5.3%). Check out Pete’s post Zero hours and declining participation drive ‘effective unemployment rate’ higher for details.

Please feel free to comment below. Alternatively, you can email comments, questions, suggestions, or hot tips to contact@queenslandeconomywatch.com. Also please check out my Economics Explored podcast, which has a new episode each week.

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