The Federal Government has laid out its plan to help get Australians back into work, but there is still no answer about how much financial support it will offer to those who cannot find a job beyond the end of the year.
The unemployment welfare payment, known as JobSeeker, was increased during the height of the pandemic with a $500 fortnightly coronavirus supplement.
It has now been reduced to $250 and will stay in place until December, with the Government reluctant to outline what will happen after that.
Business and welfare groups have called for a permanent and adequate increase to JobSeeker.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that will depend on what happens in the next few months.
“The exact rate of that is yet to be decided and will be closer to the end of the year,” Mr Frydenberg told Insiders.
“We want to see where the economic outlook is.
“We want to see if the restrictions are being lifted, whether there is another wave of cases, and we also want to see where the labour market dynamics are.”
Treasury forecasts the unemployment rate will reach 8 per cent in the December quarter, and will not fall to 6.5 per cent until the June quarter in 2022.
Some businesses won’t survive
The JobKeeper wage subsidy will end in March 2021, and the Treasurer said he was hopeful the new measures outlined in the Budget would provide adequate long-term support.
However, he conceded not all businesses being propped up by JobKeeper would survive.
“Treasury doesn’t calculate the number of businesses that will be created or the number of businesses that will close,” Mr Frydenberg said.
“Some business will not survive and some jobs will be lost.
“There will be businesses that will fold, there is no doubt about that, and we can’t save every business and we can’t save every job.”
Support for women and youth
Mr Frydenberg has defended the Federal Budget, which was light on support for industries dominated by women.
A central piece of Tuesday night’s Budget was the $4 billion JobMaker Hiring Credit scheme, which the Government said would encourage businesses to take on younger workers.
Under the plan, an employer that hires a new employee aged between 16 and 29 that has been on welfare would get $200 a week to help pay their wage.
They would receive $100 a week for each new eligible employee aged 30 to 35.
Some have argued the policy locks older women out of much-needed support, but the Treasurer has again defended the scheme.
“The reason why we went for the cohort 16 to 35 was because if you look right now at the unemployment rate for people who are 15 to 34 it’s around 10 per cent,” Josh Frydenberg said.
“If you look at the unemployment rate for people who are 35 to 44, it is 4.9 per cent.”
Mr Frydenberg argued in previous recessions, it took longer for young people to find work.
“In the 1990s, it took a full decade to get the unemployment rate down below 6 per cent from where it started, but it took a remarkable 15 years to get the number of jobs for young people back below from where it started, and that is what is first and foremost in our minds,” he said.
In August, female workforce participation dropped to 60 per cent and male participation fell to 69.7 per cent.