Finance Jobless tipped to rise as more seek work

Jobless tipped to rise as more seek work

More than 1.4 million Australians have lost their jobs during the pandemic. Photo: AAP/James Gourley
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Gloomy consumers and an expected further rise in unemployment will set the scene a week out from the government’s economic update.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics will release the June labour force figures on Thursday.

Unemployment rose to 7.1 per cent in May, but Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has conceded the real rate is above 13 per cent.

Effective unemployment factors in people working zero hours and those who have dropped out of the workforce.

The future of JobKeeper wage subsidies and the booster JobSeeker dole payment will be revealed in next Thursday’s mini-budget.

Labor is arguing for JobKeeper to be tapered off gradually, while also better targeting the payment to the most-affected sectors.

Labor deputy leader Richard Marles urged the government not to withdraw support across the board in September, when JobKeeper is due to expire.

“If you withdraw government support at a faster rate than the private sector is able to recover, then what you end up doing is engendering a further deepening of the recession,” he told Sky News on Thursday.

Business Council of Australia chief executive Jennifer Westacott said the government had made it clear it would redesign and taper JobKeeper.

“We’ve got to make sure that we target those businesses that can’t really open or can’t get back to their normal level because of the restrictions in place,” she told ABC radio.

She also said JobSeeker could not return to its old rate of $40 a day.

“That’s a permanent change we should make along with making sure that the job networks are working more effectively to retrain, re-skill people, get them into the right jobs,” Ms Westacott said.

The Australian Institute of Company Directors also wants to see a cautious and tapered approach to withdrawing support.

NAB economists forecast the unemployment rate peaking at eight per cent this year, lower than initially forecast.

But the bank’s July forward view expected the jobless figure to recover gradually over the next two years to reach 5.8 per cent at the end of 2022.

Mr Marles praised the Treasurer for turning the focus to the effective unemployment rate ahead of official figures being released.

“Whatever they show today it is clear that the effective jobless rate is much higher,” he said.

“We’re going through a jobs crisis here.”

Lockdowns in Melbourne have dragged consumer confidence back down, with the Westpac-Melbourne Institute survey showing June’s gains being wiped out in July.

Consumer sentiment in Melbourne dropped more than 10 per cent, while elsewhere in the country it fell by 4.5 per cent.