A man walks into a Centrelink, part of the Australian government’s department of human services where job seekers search for employment, in a Sydney suburbMore

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australian job advertisements suffered their largest ever fall in April as strict social distancing rules and business closures to combat the coronavirus all but crushed demand for labour.

Monday’s figures from Australia and New Zealand Banking Group <ANZ.AX> showed total job ads plunged 53.1% in April, from March when they dropped 10%. The fall was almost five times larger than the previous record of 11.3% in January 2009.

Job ads averaged just 63,806 in April, down from 136,106 in March and 62.2% lower than a year earlier.

Economists fear unemployment could spike toward 10% in coming months as large