The Australian Bureau of Statistics will map the areas predicted to be the hardest hit by coronavirus-induced job losses, as the country locks down to slow the spread of the pandemic.
With a wave of shutdowns and cancellations taking place and the Morrison government mulling more restrictions, including rules covering gatherings in enclosed spaces, such as pubs, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann acknowledged some sectors of the economy would be especially hard hit.
"Essentially we're gonna try to keep as many Australians in jobs as possible, working in the best possible way, including with businesses around Australia," he told the ABC on Tuesday.
"But we will also be providing appropriate levels of support for those Australians who, over the next few weeks and months, will not be able to remain in employment because of the downturn caused by the coronavirus."
Australian Statistician Dr David Gruen said the economic impacts of COVID-19 were "highly uncertain".
"In these circumstances, there are sizeable benefits for the community and governments to have access to information about the economic responses of individuals and businesses that is as up-to-date as possible," Dr Gruen said.
To that end, the ABS will look at providing extra, more up-to-date information "over and above existing statistical releases" in order to track the economic impact of the virus.
It will publish preliminary retail turnover estimates two weeks after the end of each month, the first of which is due on Wednesday. Currently, there's a longer lag between the end of the month and when the figures are published. The January figures for example went up on March 6. The estimates will be subject to revision two weeks later.
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The ABS has also started surveying businesses about the actual and expected impacts of the virus. It will be done monthly, with the first results due in mid-April.
It will also conduct extra analysis of short term visitor arrivals and international students for each state and territory. It will also beef up its data collection on hours worked, including reasons for working less hours, and quarterly analysis by industry.
Most critically, the ABS will publish interactive employment maps from Wednesday to support a regional assessment of potential impacts of the coronavirus on employment. These maps will include age, industry and employment dimensions, and be based on underlying data from Jobs in Australia.
The ABS is not immune to the effects of the virus either.
Surveys will be done over the phone or online to reduce the need for face-to-face interviews.
"Any impacts of these changes on the quality of ABS statistics will be explained in the relevant statistical releases," Dr Gruen said.
"As events unfold over coming months, the ABS will assess the evolving implications of the coronavirus and refine our approach as necessary."
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