Australia cautions March jobs data covers pre-virus lockdown period

Australia cautions March jobs data covers pre-virus lockdown period

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Sydney

SYDNEY (Reuters) – The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) on Thursday cautioned that data on March employment covered just the first two weeks of the month before measures were taken to contain the spread of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus.

The data showed employment actually rose by 5,900 in March, when analysts had expected a drop of 40,000, while the jobless rate ticked up only slightly to 5.2%.

However, the ABS emphasised the survey covered only the period of March 1-14 before entire sectors of the economy were shut to head off the virus.

“Today’s data shows some small early impact from COVID-19 on the Australian labour market in early March, but any impact from the major COVID-19 related actions will be evident in the April data,” said ABS Chief Economist Bruce Hockman.

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