Between March and April 2020, Australia experienced unprecedented change in the labour market from restrictions to slow the spread of COVID-19 and government support packages to mitigate its impact on individuals, households and businesses.
As highlighted in People who lost a job of were stood down: Flows analysis in the April issue of Labour Force, Australia (6202.0), the number of unemployed people increased by around 100,000 and the unemployment rate increased by 1.0 pts to 6.2% between March and April.
These increases in unemployment, while historically large, only partially reflect the impact on employment from COVID-19. A large number of people had their hours reduced, or were stood down.
There were also many people who were employed in March but not in April who were either not looking for work or not available for work in April (and hence were not in the labour force, rather than being unemployed).
This resulted in the number of people not in the labour force increasing by around 500,000 to 7.5 million in April, the highest recorded in the series. Most (82%) of this increase were people not actively looking for work.