When the pandemic struck back in March, Christina Vetta was working as a social media manager for an agency.
- Australia’s jobless rate fell from 7.2 per cent to 6.7 per cent in a month
- One economist says the true numbers out of work will likely become clear in March
- This is when JobKeeper support payments will end for 3.5 million people
The company started to cut back so she decided to use the pandemic as a launch pad to start her own business.
“I basically decided to back myself and I resigned from my role and started my own social media agency,” Ms Vetta said.
The 37-year-old now runs her business “Social Hills” from her home in inner-city Surry Hills.
“Fast forward five months down the line and I’ve got a really good portfolio. I am very close to earning what I was earning at the agency,” she said.
Ms Vetta is among New South Wales workers who have managed to pivot and remain employed, despite more than 1 million Australians losing their jobs during the coronavirus pandemic.
Official figures released on Thursday revealed a surprising bounce-back in employment, with more than 100,000 new jobs created around the country in the past month.
The official unemployment rate fell to 6.8 per cent in August, down from 7.5 per cent in July.
In NSW unemployment fell from 7.2 per cent to 6.7 per cent.
Only Victoria — where a second wave has caused widespread lockdowns — and Tasmania recorded higher unemployment between July and August.
But with 3.5 million people on JobKeeper, Sue-Lin Ong, Chief Economist at RBC Capital Markets, said it may be March — when the payment is scheduled to end — before the true number of people out of work becomes clear.
“There’s no doubt the JobKeeper program is flattering the official unemployment rate,” she said.
But she said the latest figures did give some cause for optimism.
“Outside of Victoria, there’s clearly some recovery going on in the broader labour market.”
For some, the pandemic has forced a career change.
Jen Rodgers, 34, has been working in hospitality since leaving school.
She loves the industry and at the start of the pandemic was working as the assistant manager of a cafe in North Richmond in the Hawkesbury.
But when her hours were reduced, it forced a rethink.
“I had a huge moment of having to reassess everything and just realised I had to find a different career path that was going to support me and my family better in the long run,” she said.
She’s now studying part-time to become a primary school teacher.
“I can honestly say if COVID hadn’t have happened, I wouldn’t have made the move,” she said.
Finding another job was ‘really quick’
Danielle Martin, 45, from Wollongong, has also made a career change, moving from a job in disability employment services to become a careers coach with a rehab company.
“Once the pandemic hit, all of a sudden you had pilots looking for jobs, you had restaurant managers, very skilled, experienced people, so my job became very difficult,” she said.
When her company announced it was restructuring due to COVID, Ms Martin would have had to take on a new position, with a pay cut of $11,400.
The day after, she sent off two job applications and one company got back to her straight away.
“I had a phone interview that Friday, a face to face Zoom interview the next Tuesday and I was offered the job on the Thursday so it was really quick,” she said.
She hasn’t look back since.
“I feel my strengths are coming out and I’m being challenged and I’m rising to it. It’s made me feel valued, I guess,” she said.
Ms Vetta’s new venture has been so successful she’s even taken on a part-time worker.
She said in her case the pandemic has been a catalyst for change.
“2020 has been the biggest opportunity and the most exciting time for me.”