The number of Hunter workers put off or forced into leave following the non-essential service shutdowns is likely in the tens of thousands, Australian Bureau of Statistics data suggests.
The two main industries decimated by the federal government's decision to force non-essential services to close are the hospitality and fitness industries.
Many of those lined up outside Centrelink offices across the Hunter on Monday and Tuesday reported losing work in the industries.
Clubs and pubs put off hordes of casual workers after restrictions began being imposed last week before the doors of all venues were shut indefinitely on Monday.
Most permanent staff have been forced to take annual or other leave, and for many, allocations will likely be exhausted in a matter of weeks.
The most recent jobs data compiled by the Australia Bureau of Statistics suggests almost 10 per cent of all jobs in the Lower Hunter are in the 'accommodation and food services' industry.
Across the five council areas of Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Port Stephens, Maitland and Cessnock, there were 35,925 jobs in the industry in the 2016-17 financial year, including 11,877 in Newcastle alone.
While not all jobs have been lost with some businesses continuing to trade as take-away sites and accommodation providers remaining open, they are likely operating with a significantly reduced workforce.
Workers at gyms and fitness centres, many of whom are casuals or contractors, are out of a job after those facilities closed as well.
The ABS data combines the fitness industry with the arts, which has also taken a hit as musicians can no longer perform live and galleries are closed. Across the five LGAs, there were 5738 jobs in the 'arts and recreation' industry in 2016-17.
"It's difficult to put a finger on the exact number of people working in those industries but the job losses will be significant," Hunter Business Chamber CEO Bob Hawes said.
"The accommodation and food services sector is typically an employer of young people - around 45 per cent are aged 15 to 24 - so the industry closures and downturn will hit hard among that age group and exacerbate already high levels of youth unemployment in the region.
"It is also a sector that gives a lot of people a start in the workforce, particularly those who don't opt for university. It is typified by part-time and casual workers, who make up about 60 per cent of the workforce, and offers a lot of training opportunities through apprenticeships and traineeships."
Mr Hawes said the Hunter's hospitality industry had actually grown by 16 per cent since 2014, and therefore had "characteristics" that would "hopefully position the sector for a quick bounce-back when the recovery begins, providing government support measures are in place".