How Did Coronavirus Impact the Job Market?

The coronavirus pandemic was a global event with global consequences. Around the world, nations united in their response to a once-in-a-lifetime biosecurity threat.

The coronavirus pandemic was a global event with global consequences. Around the world, nations united in their response to a once-in-a-lifetime biosecurity threat. Two years on, coronavirus remains a constant presence, but one well-mitigated by legislation and public information.

Still, its impacts have been felt holistically, on personal and professional levels. The job market in particular has seen great upheaval as a result of the pandemic – but in what ways?

Unemployment Spike

One of the uniting factors across nations impacted by the coronavirus pandemic relates to employment. Even with wage subsidy and quarantine payments, various nations saw their unemployment figures spike as businesses found the retention of staff untenable. Not only did restrictions on gathering impact business takings profoundly, but the costs of keeping staff became difficult to shoulder.

In Australia, this spike in unemployment impacted younger people most heavily. According to the Australia Institute, young people constitute 14% of Australia’s workforce – yet represented 55% of all job losses in 2021. There are many reasons for which this may have been the case, including the disproportionate impact of coronavirus on the hospitality industry. 

But since 2021, employment numbers have recovered significantly. While the job market is looking healthier today, the impact of the virus and the unemployment spike is still felt keenly – having changed the shape of the industry for decades to come.

Remote and Hybrid Working

One of the key ways in which this change has been realised is in a shift towards remote working. With employees unable to attend the office, organisations were forced to invest more heavily in remote working equipment and softer – in so doing, demonstrating the ease with which flexible working patterns could be adopted.

A return to the office has been possible for workers for some time now, but remote- and hybrid-working arrangements have proven popular. Of Australian employees working from home, nearly 70% were found to be interested in continuing to work from home.

The Great Resignation

The pandemic also caused many workers to re-evaluate their career path, inspiring something called the ‘Great Resignation’ in the US and the UK. The Great Resignation has also begun to take place in Australia, deferred somewhat owing to the more stringent coronavirus legislation here.

The Great Resignation describes the increase in workers leaving their positions, either in search of better working conditions or a future in a new industry. It has also given rise to an increase in self-employed workers, taking advantage of remote opportunities to travel or re-locate. Some entrepreneurs are taking the opportunity to create their own income stream through forex trading, or through creating their own remote business.

Wellbeing and Priority

A common thread underpins the above shifts in worker attitude, going some way to describing the contemporary jobs market and the future of employment – both in Australia, and globally. The pandemic pulled into sharp focus the way in which workers prioritised their time and energy, revealing to many that their physical and mental health was suffering for the sake of their work.

Indeed, after the pandemic there has been an acutely increased awareness of mental health – and the multifarious impacts of the conventional work-life relationship. Workers are now shifting to prioritising their own mental health, whether through seeking less stressful career paths or businesses with progressive policies regarding workload and wellbeing. As workers understand their worth in the market all the more, businesses are required to step up their approaches to mental health to attract talent.

COVID-19economyGlobal TradeLabour Market