Working paper

Navigating economic uncertainty in post-COVID cities

Employment vulnerability and resilience in Australian capital cities
COVID-19 Disease management Employment forecasting Economic modelling Labour market Labour market disruption Australia

Australia has entered a period of reduced COVID-19 restrictions yet both the health and economic well-being of our communities remain fragile. Despite relatively low infection rates, experts claim that 'it would be a miracle' if future spikes do not occur. We must also be prepared for the possibility of a larger, 'second wave' resurgence of COVID-19 transmission as has occurred in Europe and Asia.

Given the unpredictability of future outbreaks, policymakers cannot assume a smooth road to recovery. Even under the best case 'V-shaped' recession scenario, some industries and communities will deal with the economic fallout of COVID-19 for years to come.

Unlike other recessions, the economic effects related to COVID-19 are rooted in a service-sector recession. Investing in major infrastructure projects and slashing taxes to encourage job growth and business expansion will not work. Policymakers need to focus on building a more resilient and diverse job mix and support quality future employment opportunities.

Key findings:

  • COVID-19 restrictions have impacted service workers most severely, particularly those who live in the high cost, jobs-rich inner suburbs.
  • The most vulnerable employment communities are concentrated in Melbourne’s inner suburbs. About 30% of vulnerable workers living in the inner suburbs work in arts, entertainment, and education industries.
  • The most vulnerable employment areas include shopping districts (Chadstone and Highpoint Shopping Centres in Melbourne); university districts, and cultural and recreation areas Paddington-Moore Park (Fox Studios, Entertainment Quarter, Paddington Markets) in Sydney and Hillarys (Westfield, AQWA Aquarium) in Perth are among the most at risk.
  • Researchers anticipate a second wave of COVID-19 employment vulnerability to hit in September 2020, when the Federal Government’s JobKeeper program expires.
Publication Details
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Monash Urban Planning and Design Working Paper 22