29 September 2021
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Be warned: more than 10,000 jobs destroyed daily in lockdown land!

Peter Switzer
6 August 2021

After a spectacular rise in jobs and a huge fall in unemployment until June, when the jobless rate hit 4.9% nearly two years ahead of schedule, we were hailing a V-shaped recovery. And the number employed hit a record high of 13.154 million!

V? Why V? We went down on the first arm of a V with a job-killing recession as the Coronavirus crash of the stock market and lockdown of the entire economy from late February to Mid-May took grip. Then we quickly rose — the rising part of the V as the economy and the stock market rebounded with JobKeeper and the reopening of the economy. And that was despite Melbourne going into a long hard lockdown.

But the Delta strain has turned the jobs V-shaped recovery into a K-shaped ‘recovery’, with jobs in big business and the public service the rising arm of the K and jobs in small and family businesses in hospitality, tourism and CBD retail and services the falling arm of the K!

The Daily Tele reports that “according to an analysis of the figures by the Institute for Public Affairs, between June 26 (when the lockdown started) and the end of the most recent reporting period, that means that 214,400 jobs were destroyed across NSW – equivalent to 10,200 per day.”

Back to my ABC of Economics lesson! Let’s identify those on the rising arm of the K and those on the falling part of the K.

The rising arm of the K are jobs increasing for big businesses that can stay open, like Bunnings, the big businesses that can use Zoom to keep the wheels of their operation turning even with workers at home. And then there are the big businesses that can sell online, like JB Hi-Fi. Sure, there are less workers on the floor but there are a lot more in warehouses, running the online sales and delivering product.

But the falling arm of the K are small and family businesses, especially in hospitality, travel, retail and services in the CBD.

This isn’t a special K, it’s a despicable K. And only vaccinations can change that!

But in the interim period, governments have to increase the number of people on phones and on websites to help employees and small business owners get the assistance they need until we’re on top of this virus.

Small business ministers from Canberra to our country’s capitals have to behave like small business owners, who work 24/7 to make their business deliver. This can be the finest and worst minister moments, and what they do over the next few months will determine how this important small-and-medium business sector and their employees vote at the next election.

Sure, it’s a tough job getting money ASAP to struggling businesses in a crisis like this, but as the old saying goes, “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.”

The governments of Australia get a chance to walk in the shoes of business owners who try every day to make their operations succeed, employ and pay people, as well as keeping customers satisfied.

And at the end of it, these champion Aussies hope to see a profit, or at worst, at least give themselves a wage!

As I say, what happens over the next few months will not only determine the survival of thousands of businesses and the jobs they offer, but also whether a lot of government politicians will be ‘desperate and jobless’ after the next election.

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