In the arts and recreation sector, 18.7 per cent or around 46,500 jobs went during the three week period.
Every single industry sector has shed staff and income with the biggest hits coming in the first week of April. Across the nation, total wages paid out by employers as measured by the tax office fell by 6.7 per cent.
Younger Australians have borne the brunt of the shutdown. Ten per cent of people aged under 20 and 8.8 per cent of those in their twenties have lost their job since the middle of March.
Among the states and territories, the biggest hit was to Tasmania where jobs fell by 7.3 per cent. They dropped by 6.8 per cent in Victoria and by 6.4 per cent in NSW.
The data covers the period after the bureau’s March employment survey which showed the jobless rate last month marginally increasing to 5.2 per cent.
While payroll data will not align directly with job losses, the figures suggest the April unemployment rate – to be released on May 14 – is likely to show one of the biggest single month jumps on record. The previous record was 65,300 lost in January 1991.
Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe said the RBA expected unemployment to reach 10 per cent by the end of June and remain above 6 per cent for at least the next two years. The economy is forecast to shrink by 10 per cent through the first six months of 2020.
Dr Lowe, who warned against trying to “catastrophise” the economic outlook, conceded the situation facing Australia was unlike anything since the Great Depression.
“The result of both the restrictions and the uncertainty is that over the first half of 2020 we are likely to experience the biggest contraction in national output and income that we have witnessed since the 1930s,” he said.
Despite the “unprecedented” collapse in the economy, Dr Lowe said longer term the economy would bounce back. After contracting by 6 per cent this year, the bank believes it will expand by between 6 and 7 per cent in 2021.
He backed wide-ranging policy reforms, including an overhaul of the taxation of income, consumption and land, but cautioned the business landscape could be sharply different once the virus is conquered.
“In the months ahead, we are likely to lose some businesses, despite best efforts, and some of these businesses will not reopen. It is also probable that there will be structural changes in the economy. We are all learning to work, shop and travel differently,” he said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison revealed that since March 16 more than 517,000 claims have been made for the JobSeeker payment. That is the normal number processed in a full year.
He said the level of claims were very high and of deep concern as each represented a person who had lost their livelihood.
Shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers said the job figures were a wake-up call for those who argued the economy would “snap back” to normal once the virus had passed.
“With unemployment already skyrocketing in this latest ABS report and worse results expected to come, it is difficult to imagine how these workers will “snap back” to work when the worst of this economic crisis passes,” he said.
Shane is a senior economics correspondent for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald.