Australia's Unemployment Rate Rises to 6.2% in April

Australia's Unemployment Rate Rises to 6.2% in April”

Nearly 600,000 Australians lost their jobs as the virus shutdown took hold in April, the steepest monthly drop since records began more than 40 years ago, data showed Thursday.

However, the participation rate - or the percentage of people looking for work, dropped sharply by 2.4 percentage points to 63.5 percent, reflecting the weak job market conditions.

Earlier on Thursday Anthony Albanese, the leader of the Opposition Labor Party, described the figures as "devastating", saying that unemployment being lower than forecast was not a cause for celebration.

This was underlined by the underemployment rate jumping 4.9 percentage points to 13.7 percent and the under-utilisation rate - or the rate of people looking for more working hours - also spiking 5.9 percentage points to 19.9 percent.

"The unemployment rate rose far less than most had anticipated in April, but that masks a sharp fall in employment and we still expect the unemployment rate to rise further over the coming months", Marcel Thieliant of Capital Economics wrote in a note.

"This is a tough day for Australia, a very tough day", Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a televised media briefing.

The rise in the unemployment rate - from 5.2 percent in March - reflects the full monthly impact of strict social distancing measures imposed in late-March which led to widespread business closures.

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"This means there was a high number of people without a job who didn't or couldn't actively look for work or weren't available for work".

Australia has been one of the most successful countries in containing COVID-19, with fewer than 7,000 confirmed cases and 100 deaths out of a population of 25 million.

Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison remembered the last recession which Australia faced straight after he left university.

The total number of hours worked by Australians fell by 9.2 per cent between March and April.

"We have published today a new forecast about the potential recovery of the air traffic and what we see is that things should come back to normal in 2023", Mr de Juniac said.

The "reopening will be a gradual process and not everyone who lost their job during the lockdown will immediately find a new one", Thielant said. The true unemployment rate may be closer to 19.5 percent, the United States government said in a note attached to its report.

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