RDA Orana acknowledges that as the Coronavirus pandemic escalates, significant impacts will be felt across nearly every industry in our region in some shape or form. We've suffered through drought, bushfire and now a pandemic. Many industries are already feeling the pressure of the ongoing crisis with businesses struggling to remain sustainable and profitable during these uncertain times. With that in mind, we developed a survey for companies across all industries to understand the broader economic impacts currently felt across our region and anticipated future challenges from COVID-19.
Our research shows that almost 11,000 people in the region have lost their jobs since COVID-19 ramped up. The most affected industries in the region are arts and recreation services, accommodation and food services, retail trade and, surprisingly, healthcare and social services.
The hardest hit, the arts and recreation sector is one of the smallest sectors of our economy. It employs 556 people, and the average wage is $34,000 per person per annum.
The impact on the accommodation and food sector is more significant, using some 3,555 people, with an average wage of $42,000 per person per annum. Employers in the industry were already experiencing a skills shortage, especially for cooks and chefs and have reported concerns around retention of these workers in the region during shut down. Another key consideration for small businesses in this sector has been the management of cash flow for recovery.
The healthcare and social service industry indicated a 43.32% decrease in the workforce, attributed to the private sector and therapeutic services. In reality, the decline is likely to be less than 43% in the industry, with the public health system reporting growth in employment.
The retail sector has been impacted by the government shutdowns, with many small businesses having to close down or cut down the number of employees. However, supermarkets and food stores have experienced a reverse effect with many having to employ more workers to cater for the growing demand.
From this immediate contraction in the economy, flow-on supply-chain effects in terms of local purchases of goods and services are likely.
If restrictions remain, job losses in the next 3-6 months would be spread more broadly across other parts of the economy as these closures and restrictions work their way through different sectors. The impact could extend to an additional 2,500 jobs.
However, the blow on the economy has been softened considerably by the Federal Government and their COVID19 interventions, particularly the JobKeeper payments.
RDA Orana is a not for profit business that receives federal funding to support regional and economic development initiatives across the Orana region. Our mission is to support sustainable economic growth through the provision of regional intelligence that creates connections and collaborations, supports investment decisions by business and government, and that encourages the development of our workforce. To find out more, visit rdaorana.org.au
Regional Recovery with RDA Orana is a series of columns produced by RDA Orana looking at the impacts of COVID-19 and the road to recovery for our community.
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