Australia’s labour market experienced unprecedented volatility during 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic and resulting recession. In the first part of the year, employment declined faster and more deeply than in any previous economic downturn, as workplaces were closed to control the spread of infection. Then, after May, employment rebounded strongly. The subsequent recovery has replaced over 80% of the jobs lost in the initial downturn. While considerable ground remains to be covered to complete the employment recovery, the turn-around in the quantity of work has been encouraging.
However, the pandemic also highlighted stark fissures in Australia’s labour market. The employment and income impacts of the pandemic were starkly unequal, across different groups of workers. This report highlights several ways in which the pandemic has increased inequality in Australia, and reinforced the dominance of insecure work in the overall labour market.