As of March, there was no major impact from COVID-19 on key employment, unemployment, and participation series. However, there have been some early impacts evident in the hours worked series.
Early labour market impacts from major disruption to the economy tend to be most evident in the hours people work. Hours worked can change more quickly than employment, given the variability in individual circumstances for people and businesses from one week to the next. During an economic downturn, reducing hours is often an early response taken by businesses, often with the view to avoiding people losing their jobs.
It is important to note that the reference weeks for the Labour Force Survey were in the first half of March, when there were a relatively low number of confirmed COVID-19 cases within Australia, and many of the additional social distancing measure, shutdowns of non-essential services and trading restrictions had yet to be announced or take effect.