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  • Writer's pictureShaun Brien

A Productive Lockdown

Australia (especially Victoria) spent a large proportion of 2021 in various states of lockdown where non-essential businesses were closed and working and learning from home became the new normal.

Although Australia's productivity capacity and overall production significantly shrunk during this period, you may be amazed to know that Australia had it's highest rates of productivity in years.

Australia's Productivity Rate

As you can see in the above graph measuring Australia's productivity, during the locked down period of 2020 productivity was the highest it has been for a long period. Now why would this be? You would assume productivity would fall with business closures and the distractions created by working from home.

This can be explained with a few simple points. Productivity is simply a measure of output per unit of input in economics. During these lockdowns businesses managed to have reduced costs in many areas. Wages for many businesses were a significantly reduced cost due to the JobKeeper wage subsidies being provided to businesses. The cost of utilities such as water and electricity would've dropped substantially for businesses as they were no longer using their premises and their workers work from home. Many businesses also simply laid off casual workers to decrease their costs and be more efficient with their resources. Video conferencing for all meetings also meant many businesses were more efficient as less time was being spent travelling to meeting locations. All of the above and more led to businesses on average being more productive through the pandemic. However, as you can see this is beginning to fall as labour resources return to work and government subsidies to businesses are ending.

It is important to note that despite this increased productivity, production did still fall, unemployment did rise and inflation moved away from the goal and therefore although it was a productive lockdown, it was not one of high achievement.

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