Jobless rate to peak in Dec Qtr, then fall

Adam Bennett
(Australian Associated Press)


Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has delivered a “jobs budget” – and it will need to be to get on top of the unemployment crisis facing the nation.

Mr Frydenberg expects the jobless rate will peak at eight per cent in the December quarter, reflecting an economy battered by the COVID-19 lockdown in Victoria and ongoing international and domestic border restrictions.

But by June 2022, unemployment is forecast to drop back to 6.5 per cent, and keep falling, the federal budget released on Tuesday shows.

The 2020/21 forecast is for an unemployment rate of 7.25 per cent, followed by 6.5 per cent the following year and six per cent and 5.5 per cent in the next two years.

The government claims a recovery of sorts is already under way, because almost 60 per cent of the 1.3 million who lost their jobs or were stood down during the worst of the pandemic are now back at work.

It attributes this to support measures such as the JobKeeper payment, and that without that help the unemployment rate would have risen above 12 per cent and stayed there until 2022.

About 10 per cent of Australian workers lost their jobs or were stood down on zero hours during the height of the COVID crisis.

The effective unemployment rate peaked at 15 per cent.

“Together, our actions saved 700,000 jobs,” Mr Frydenberg told federal parliament.

The government is banking on the new JobMaker program and the billions in business tax incentives to build on that effort.

“The road to recovery will be hard – but there is hope,” the treasurer said.


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