Australia’s jobless rate hits two-decade high

The last time the unemployment rate in Australia broke 7% was in October 2001.
By: | June 24, 2020

The unemployment rate in Australia hit a two-decade high of 7.1% in May, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Hundreds of thousands of jobs have been lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with over 227,000 retrenchments last month – three times more than the forecast and followed a more than 600,000 fall the month before.

Australia’s jobless rate has seen a massive spike since February when it was hovering around 5% and subsequently increased to 6.4% in April. The last time it broke 7% was in October 2001.

The government described the data as “devastating”, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison warning “we are working with some of the biggest economic challenges this country has ever faced”.

Morrison warned it would take at least two years for the economy to return to normal and could be set back by a second wave of infections.

Australia is on course for its first recession in nearly three decades after the economy shrunk 0.3% in January-March, with a “far more severe” reading expected in the next three months.