HUNTER unemployment has more than doubled since mid-February, according to an analysis of Hunter jobs and wages data.
The Business NSW data showed an estimated 19,000 jobs disappeared in the region in the eight weeks from February 15 to April 4.
Based on Australian Bureau of Statistics data released on Tuesday, the data is based on Australian Tax Office payroll figures.
The regional estimates based on those statistics suggest Newcastle and Lake Macquarie alone shed 10,800 jobs in the eight-week period.
Based on those figures, Business NSW estimates the unemployment rate across Newcastle and Lake Macquarie has jumped to 9.7 per cent.
That compares to a 4.5 per cent rate in January.
In the Hunter Valley, where the data indicates 8200 jobs have been lost in the pandemic crisis, the estimate indicates the unemployment rate has spiked to 10.1 per cent compared to 4.5 per cent in January.
The figures are in line with statewide changes, where a 4.6 per cent rate has ballooned to 10.2 per cent after an estimated 240,000 jobs disappeared.
163,000 of those jobs disappeared from Sydney.
Hunter Business Chamber chief executive Bob Hawes said the trend was likely to continue and the picture had likely changed further in the weeks since the data was collected.
"The estimates may be understated as conditions may have deteriorated into April," Mr Hawes said.
"That was relatively early into the period of close-downs and restrictions on movement, so if the perceptions and sentiment of business are correct, things are likely to get worse before they get better."
Hospitality and tourism were flagged as the industry's bearing the brunt, while even health care showed a drop of 2.5 per cent after a temporary February spike.
Mr Hawes said the data indicated that workers under 20 years old and those over 70 were among the hardest hit.
"The loss of jobs in the younger age groups confirms the impact of restrictions on accommodation and food services, arts and recreation, traditionally sectors that employ young people," Mr Hawes said.
"That will have significant impact on youth unemployment in the region, which is traditionally a lot higher than the rate for the general population. We could see youth unemployment climb to around 20 per cent."
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