Research

Australia: Billions of working hours lost due to COVID-19 pandemic

New research shows that working Australians on average lost 167 hours of work worth more than $5,000 each and $47 billion to the economy from the start of March to the end of October because of COVID-19. There were about 1.3 billion hours lost due to the COVID-Recession. The figures for Victoria will be higher.

Researchers at The Australian National University (ANU) tallied the total loss in working hours and productivity costs. The total number of average hours worked by individuals between February and October was 692, which according to the study co-lead, Professor Nicholas Biddle, this was down from the expected 760 hours if everyone worked at the February levels.

According to the analysis, based on their longitudinal study running since February and before the spread of COVID-19 in Australia, weekly work hours dropped for both males and females between February and April, with a steady uptick since then – although not yet to February levels. The average hours worked for all females fell from 18.8 in February to 16.1 in April, but were 18.2 hours in October. For males, average hours worked declined from 25.0 in February to 21.5 in April and are currently at 22.7.

Workers born overseas in a non-English speaking country lost a substantially larger number of work hours (104) than an otherwise equivalent Australian-born worker.

Read more: Nicholas Biddle and Matthew Gray: Tracking outcomes during the COVID-19 pandemic (October 2020) – Reconvergence [pdf]  ANU Centre for Social Research and Methods. 

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