Lockdowns Hit Low-Income Australians Hardest

and - March 6, 2021

New research released today by free market think tank the Institute of Public Affairs has found that the bottom fifth of income earners saw over half a million jobs disappear because of lockdowns, while the top fifth of income earners saw jobs increase by nearly 200,000.

“Low-income earners, private sector workers, and young Australians, have been disproportionately affected while public sector workers, and higher income earners have been largely immune to the economic and social destruction caused by lockdowns,” said Kurt Wallace, Research Fellow at the IPA.

The research report, Not in This Together: An analysis of the economic and social impact of COVID-19 lockdowns, released today by the Institute of Public Affairs, reveals significant disparities between workers according to sector, age, and earnings, that have resulted from lockdowns.

“Lockdowns have divided Australia into two separate countries and it is low-income Australians who are paying the price for government failures that have resulted in the continued imposition of lockdowns in 2021,” said Mr Wallace.

“Younger Australians were more likely to have lost their job as a result of lockdowns and less likely to have returned to work as restrictions were eased.”

“Contrary to the adage that ‘we are all in this together’, workers in the private sector have experienced job losses, reduced hours, and wage cuts, while the public sector has expanded employment and increased wages.”

“The loudest voices in support of lockdowns have come from the Australia that has not been expected to sacrifice their job or their small business,” said Mr Wallace.

The report finds:

  • Private sector employment fell by nearly 300,000 while public sector employment rose by 25,800 between March and November 2020.
  • Employment for those between the ages of 15 and 34 fell by 158,000 while employment for those aged 35 and over increased by 20,000 between March and November 2020.
  • Between August 2019 and August 2020 there was a decline of 515,400 jobs earning below $700 a week (the bottom 20% of earners) and an increase of 194,500 jobs earning above $1,800 a week (the top 20% of earners).

Previous IPA research, Medical Capacity: An alternative to lockdowns, estimated that the strategy of eliminating COVID-19 adopted by Commonwealth and state governments could cost up to $319 billion, the equivalent to 23% of GDP, from 2020 to 2022.

Download the report.

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