About 8000 people in the Murray Riverina region have lost their jobs due to coronavirus in the past two months, but experts have warned the worst is still to come.
NSW Business regional manager Andrew Cottrill has called on the federal and state governments to ease coronavirus restrictions on a postcode-by-postcode basis, so regions with a low infection rate aren't penalised for city outbreaks. Doing so would allow regional businesses to get back to work.
"Holding everyone back for the sake of some areas still with outbreaks is delaying recovery," he said.
Mr Cottrill said there had been a six per cent reduction in the number of people employed in the Riverina-Murray region and it was important businesses could begin recovering.
He said analysis of single-touch payroll data showed about 7000 to 8000 full-time and part-time jobs had been lost in recent months.
"It's going to take a while to recover from that. We're probably talking three to five years before we start to see the economy fully recovering."
On Thursday, employment data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed nearly 600,000 Australians had lost their jobs between March and April.
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Also, a total of 2.7 million workers had been affected by the pandemic.
Mr Cottrill said the figure did not show the amount of people whose hours had been cut severely because of the crisis.
"We believe there's a significant level of under-employment, which is a real hidden issue, where people may still get a few hours but not to the degree of work they want," he said.
Australia Industry Group regional manager Tim Farrah said unfortunately more job losses were expected on the Border.
"It's a bad result for a lot of Australians," he said.
Mr Farrah said at the moment there was still a fair bit of construction and manufacturing work in the pipeline.
"But the cliff is coming quickly in terms of the drop off in forward work," he said.
"Those two sectors are looking pretty bleak for the second half of the year, the prediction is more job losses will come for sure."