4940.0 - Household Impacts of COVID-19 Survey, 29 Apr - 4 May 2020  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 18/05/2020   
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Job situation and working from home arrangements

Key findings

  • The proportion of Australians aged 18 years and over working paid hours increased from 55.8% in April to 59.0% in May;
  • Nearly half (46%) of all Australians who were working in late-April to early-May said they were working from home; and
  • Women were more likely than men to have been working from home (56% compared with 38%).

Job situation

The survey collected information on the current (early May) job status of all respondents, and whether their job situation had changed in the previous two weeks.

The survey is intended to provide a snapshot of the changes being experienced by people in Australia due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Respondents were asked simple questions about changes to their job situation, rather than the full suite of employment-related questions included in the ABS’ Labour Force Survey (see Questionnaires Used in the Labour Force Survey, cat. no. 6232.0). The results of this survey are, therefore, not directly comparable to Australia’s official Labour Force measures. The margins of error on these estimates are around seven times greater than Labour Force statistics (given the Labour Force Survey sample is around 50 times larger). More information about measuring the labour market impacts of COVID-19 can be found here.

The table below shows the self-reported job status of Australians aged 18 years and over covering the period early March to early May.

Table 1: Persons aged 18 years and over, Self-reported job status

Early March
(1st survey cycle)
Early April
(1st survey cycle)
Mid-April
(2nd survey cycle)
Early May
(3rd survey cycle)
Has a job66.2%63.4%63.6%64.2%
Working paid hours64.0%55.8%56.6%59.0%
Not working paid hours2.2%7.6%7.0%5.3%
Does not have a paid job(a)33.8%36.6%36.4%35.8%
Footnote(s): (a) Includes all people without a job and should be considered only a loose approximation for the combined “unemployed” and “not in the labour force” groups.

The survey found that the proportion of people in the panel reporting they had a job had increased by 0.8 percentage points over the month, from the lowest point in the first week of April, up to 64.2%. The proportion of people indicating that they had worked paid hours also increased, by 3.2 percentage points, up to 59.0%. While these increases were not statistically significant, given the margin of error, it may indicate some improvement in labour market conditions.
The next results of the Labour Force Survey, with data in respect of the first two weeks of May, collected over a three-week period from 10 May to 30 May, will be published on Thursday 18 June.

Working from home arrangements

Nearly half (46%) of all Australians who were working in late-April to early-May said they were working from home, with one in six (17%) increasing their number of hours working from home since COVID-19.

Women were more likely than men to have been working from home (56% compared with 38%).

The majority of those who did not work from home said they were unable to due to the type of job they had (89%), rather than other reasons such as their employer not offering the option of working from home, their home situation not being conducive for work, or their home lacking access to the internet and other proper equipment.