(Image: AAP Photo/Charles Krupa)

More than 800,000 people are unemployed in Australia, or 6.2% of the population, according to April data from Trading Economics.

This is the highest rate of joblessness since 2015, however, the unemployment rate has not yet reached the expected mark of 8.3%.

It was reported that 718,610 Australians were unemployed in March and this number is forecasted to continuously rise throughout 2020.


According to Treasury, the unemployment rate is set to hit 10% by June, at what is expected to be the peak of the coronavirus lockdown.

However, analysts at Goldman Sachs say both unemployment figures are not painting the full picture; they say the true unemployment rate across Australia could be as high as 19% by June.

Goldman Sachs says the true rate of unemployment is not easy to decipher given:

  • A large number of Australians are set to receive the JobKeeper payments and will continue to be labelled as employed even though they are not working
  • A large number of Australians, especially those in the older demographics, are no longer actively seeking work due to the bleak landscape, although this group would still like to be employed. This means they are not being accounted for as part of the unemployed group and therefore the numbers reported are more modest than the reality.

Chief economist at the MB Fund and MB Super, Leith Van Onselen argues the clearest way to get an idea of unemployment and joblessness across Australia is to look at the number of hours people are working.

Social distancing updates

COVID-19 has meant a huge portion of the workforce has seen their hours reduced; technically they are still employed but they are another cut away from being unemployed.

This means while this group are not technically unemployed, they may be struggling to make ends meet.

A graph from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows the number of hours worked by Australians drastically declined between 1980 and 2010. This trend has not slowed; it is forecasted there will be a further 20% decline in the number of hours worked in the coming months.


The true extent of unemployment will become apparent in mid-May when labour force data is released. For now, we know there are more than 800,000 people in Australia unemployed and that number is unlikely to slow down in the near future.

Read: JobSeeker payments | Are you eligible and what can you claim?