Unemployment might be over 10 percent already - study

While Treasury has tipped unemployment to peak at almost 10 percent, a new study suggests that figure might have already been reached. 

Researchers at Victoria University found 7 percent of people with jobs before the alert level 4 lockdown had lost them within three weeks - about 180,000 people.

Two percent managed to gain work in that time, leaving a net loss of about 130,000.

In all, they estimated "the unemployment rate doubled from 5.3 percent immediately before lockdown to 10.3 percent by the third week of lockdown". 

Nearly half - 44 percent - of households suffered some kind of income loss over the lockdown, with many taking paycuts to keep their jobs, as the economic impacts of the lockdown started to bite.

"The economic effects experienced during level 4 lockdown were larger than some recent commentators suggest," said Michael Fletcher, a senior research fellow at the university's Institute for Governance and Policy Studies.

"A bit under half of New Zealand households we surveyed experienced an economic loss and there was a net job loss of about 130,000. That's a big negative jolt."

The International Monetary Fund on Thursday said the world was in for a bigger shock than expected, expecting the global economy to shrink by 4.9 percent this year - up from a 3 percent contraction predicted in April. 

The Victoria University research also looked at how the lockdown and loss of jobs and income affected personal relationships. They found 52 percent of working mums and 47 percent of working dads had more parenting to do, with no corresponding drop in their work demands. The biggest increase in demand was for working mothers with kids aged four or under.

"Those who lost their jobs had decline in wellbeing, they had more couples conflict," said Kate Prickett of the Director of the Roy McKenzie Centre for the Study of Families, which was involved in the research. 

"We also found that parents of young children experienced huge increases in their family time demands."

She said while relationships held up surprisingly well, despite the stress.

"The key theme that came through... was people talking about how little time they have to slow down and just be with their family, and they really appreciated just having that time."

New Zealand is one of few countries around the world that's managed to lift most of its lockdown restrictions.

The full report will be out on Friday on Victoria University's website

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