The pandemic has largely impacted the global economy. However, across Australia, government-issued lockdowns have impacted day to day life in an unprecedented manner.
More businesses than ever are filing for bankruptcy, leaving an alarming number of people unemployed and unable to fend for themselves and their families during lockdowns. Apart from a handful of business ventures, a significant number of industries have suffered a direct blow, the Australian construction industry being one of them.
While most industries are learning to find their way around the lockdowns by either offering home services or having their staff work remotely, unfortunately, that is not an option for the construction industry. Under the current regulations in Victoria and NSW, any domestic construction, repair or maintenance task can only occur if no one is living on the premises. In contrast, large scale construction sites must abide by a handful of rules that include capacity limits, negative tests or proof of vaccination.
Although government assistance has benefited many workers, it is reported that many of the construction workers are contractors and have not been affiliated with a single employer for over a year. This leaves a significant number of workers ineligible for government-issued benefits.
Industry-wide schemes, however, have been a cause of some relief for households, allowing withdrawals of up to $5000 for families in need. However, unless the government does look more carefully into helping the construction industry, economies could fall deeper into recession.
Apart from the economic struggles, there is an urgency in maintaining mental health as well. Many have been forced to dip into their emergency savings, while many have already run out of their savings. On the flip side, a large volume of unfulfilled jobs has been piling up during the lockdown. Construction business owners are asking for more flexible policies to continue in uninhabited locations and renovation works for the smaller crew. In comparison to other industries, the construction sector has seen fewer infections due to a proper safety procedure in place, but that has not left the industry exempt from the lockdown restrictions.
Economists exclaim that Australia entered recession for the first time in over 30 years in June 2020 after a decline in GDP for two consecutive quarters. Economists say the lockdowns currently happening across the country and likely will continue for months will impact the construction industry. Since many are aware that the lockdowns will continue for the next few months, the uncertainty of how long it will take to return to normal hurts the construction industry and everyone associated with it. Along the east coast, these impacts, including financial stress, mental stress, lack of work and a decrease in productivity, will continue. Moreover, it will only be a matter of time before we begin to see the long-term impacts on the industry and our economy when they do.