The Riverina lost an estimated 1200 jobs during the first few weeks of the coronavirus shutdown, but the true economic damage is likely much worse.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics unemployment rate in the Riverina increased from 4.7 to 6.2 per cent from March to April and the number of employed people decreased from 80,500 to 79,300.
However, NSW Business Chamber Murray-Riverina regional manager Andrew Cottrill said he feared the Riverina's unemployment was more likely above 8.2 per cent.
"I would suggest that the ABS numbers are not really reflective of the true impact," he said.
"I know on the ground we are seeing much more significant losses than are reflected in those numbers."
Mr Cottrill said estimates based on the new single touch payroll system data reported to the Australian Taxation Office suggested that 3700 jobs had been lost in the Riverina.
"This payroll data was showing that 8.2 per cent was believed to be the Riverina's new unemployment rate after 7.9 per cent of jobs were lost," he said.
Mr Cottrill said the business chamber was also aware of a number of people in the Riverina being faced with 'underemployment' due to cutbacks in work hours.
"Many casuals are working fewer hours than they would like to and full-time employees are seeing hours reduced during the COVID period," he said.
The ABS on Thursday released its labour force report for April, which involved surveying a limited number of Riverina residents between the 29th of March and 11th of April.
One week before the survey period, most non-essential services were being closed.
The JobKeeper $1500 per fortnight wage subsidy started on March 30 but the federal government was still a month away from reimbursing employers.
Committee 4 Wagga chief executive Alan Johnston said the Riverina's job loss data was not a surprise and "probably not dissimilar to the rest of Australia, depending on the mix of industries in respective regions."
"Unfortunately it will be what it will be, and what we have got to work on is getting out the other end as quickly as we possibly can," he said.
"Particularly with those casual and part-time roles that were not as well-supported as we would have liked by JobKeeper.
"The sooner we can get those back going again, the better."
The ABS data suggests the Riverina's female participation rate has fallen, with 1100 fewer women in the labour force in April.
"That may well reflect the higher percentage of females in the hospitality and service industries and a higher level of casualisation in the female workforce," Mr Cottrill said.