Australian hospitality sector ravaged by COVID-19, latest statistics show

The COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic has forced 70% of businesses in the hospitality sector to reduce the hours of their staff and 43% to either sack workers or place them on unpaid leave, new data has found.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) conducted a survey on 3,000 Australian business across multiple sectors following the announcement of government-directed social distancing measures on March 29th.

Two thirds of all business reported taking a hit to revenue or cash flow due to coronavirus and around the same number reported they had suffered decreased demand.

In the hospitality sector, which accounts for roughly 8% of Australian jobs, about 78% of accommodation and food services businesses said they had made changes to their workforce, including 70% that temporarily reduced work hours.

About 43% of hospitality sector responses said they had placed staff on unpaid leave, including standing them down, and 29% said they had put staff on paid leave.

Westpac economists on Monday warned that Australian GDP would contract by 8.5% in the June quarter, on the back of a 0.6% shrinkage in the September quarter.

“Overall, the economy is expected to contract by 5% through the 2020 year,” said Westpac chief economist Bill Evans. “All else being equal, these growth forecasts would be consistent with the unemployment rate peaking at 17% in the June quarter and settling around 9% by year’s end.”