Impact of COVID-19 on Australian businesses – part two

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This story was first published on Thursday 14 May 2020. If you wish to use this content, please contact to confirm that the information is still current.

The Department of Education, Skills and Employment is progressively releasing reports on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on Australian businesses and their staffing levels.

The first instalment of the Impact of COVID-19 on Businesses report showed the COVID-19 crisis is affecting the majority of businesses.

The latest instalment is based on more than 900 survey responses between 27 March and 24 April 2020.

The results continue to show that the COVID-19 crisis is affecting the majority of businesses, with the demand for their goods and services and cash flow considerably reduced. Consequently, many businesses reported they have reduced staff hours or let staff go.

Of all surveyed businesses, 30 per cent had reduced staff numbers since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. This compares with 17 per cent of businesses surveyed in 2019 that had reduced staff numbers over the previous 12 months.

Some 54 per cent of businesses reported that COVID-19 had affected their business ‘a great deal’ with another 25 per cent reporting that it had affected their business ‘somewhat’.

Industries such as accommodation and food services and health care and social assistance were greatly impacted, with over 80 per cent of businesses affected ‘a great deal’, while industries such as construction, manufacturing and professional, and scientific and technical services had less than half of its businesses affected ‘a great deal’.

Accommodation and food services businesses were also more likely to let staff go (62 per cent) compared with the average for all industries (28 per cent). Construction businesses were the least likely to let staff go (14 per cent).

Accommodation and food services and health care and social assistance businesses were the most likely to have reduced staff hours (69 per cent and 52 per cent respectively), compared with all industries (46 per cent). Businesses in the professional, scientific and technical services industry were the least likely to have reduced staff hours (38 per cent).

In the week to 24 April, only 9 per cent of businesses surveyed expected to decrease in staff numbers in the coming months, a decrease of 10 percentage points compared with the previous week (19 per cent).

Additionally, the proportion of businesses that expected current impacts of COVID-19 to become more severe declined sharply from 50 per cent in the week ending 17 April to 29 per cent in the week ending 24 April.

Take a look on the Labour Market Information Portal to view all published Impacts of COVID-19 on Businesses reports, and subscribe to receive future updates on these topics and more.

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Correct at time of publication.