Professor Scott Baum

Researchers at Griffith University and University of Newcastle have mapped the Australian suburbs most at risk of COVID-19 job losses.

The Employment Vulnerability Index (EVI) 3.0 uses Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Census data to calculate an index score for towns and cities with a population of 10,000 people or more.

Co-authors Professor Scott Baum from Griffith and Professor Bill Mitchell from University of Newcastle combined previous EVI data and insights on the jobs most affected by an economic downturn to model COVID-19’s effect on more than 80% of Australians.

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EVI 3.0 identifies two groups at risk of job losses: historically disadvantaged localities and an emerging group of localities who have not suffered historical disadvantage but are likely to experience social and economic pain.

Professor Baum said the two groups raised different issues for policy makers.

“For the group we call ‘existing disadvantage job-loss suburbs, further labour market disadvantage will cement the social and economic malaise experienced by these communities and widen. the gap with rest of the nation.”

“For the group we call ‘existing disadvantage job loss suburbs’, further labour market disadvantage will cement the social and economic malaise experienced by these communities and widen the gap with the rest of the nation”

He said the outcomes were different for the second ‘emerging disadvantaged job loss’ group, as some workers will transition with the economy, while others may not be so lucky.

“The challenges may include household and community burdens associated with increasing localised financial hardship or increases in a range of social problems seen in places that have been disadvantaged over a longer term.

“How deep and long these potential impacts will be is a matter of wait and see,” Professor Baum said.

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Professor Mitchell warns that withdrawing government support after the crisis is over will undo any positive outcomes.

“There is a real danger that the Government will retract its support mechanisms too soon.”

“Ultimately how these suburbs and localities fare will depend on the impact of the Federal Government’s economic rescue package and the depth of the economic downturn. Outcomes may not be as bad as some have predicted.”

Mapping your suburb

The full EVI 3.0 report is available online and includes a heat map tool for Australia.

Professor Scott Baum is a member of Griffith University’s Cities Research Institute and Policy Innovation Hub. Professor Bill Mitchell is Director of University of Newcastle’s Centre of Full Employment and Equity.