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Job losses rise as $155m in disaster payments is deposited into accounts

  • July 20 2021
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Job losses rise as $155m in disaster payments is deposited into accounts

By Cameron Micallef
July 20 2021

Australia’s decade-low unemployment rate is set to spike just as the country’s efforts were being celebrated, with key stakeholders questioning whether current government support goes far enough in helping those who now face at least a month of unemployment.

Job losses rise

Job losses rise as $155m in disaster payments is deposited into accounts

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  • July 20 2021
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Australia’s decade-low unemployment rate is set to spike just as the country’s efforts were being celebrated, with key stakeholders questioning whether current government support goes far enough in helping those who now face at least a month of unemployment.

Job losses rise

Released just days ago, fresh ABS data put Australia’s official unemployment rate at a decade low of 4.9 per cent in June, with experts now warning this figure is already out of date as Sydney and Melbourne both undergo lockdown.

In fact, latest government data has revealed that as many as 331,000 disaster payment claims worth $155 million have already been granted across locked-down Sydney and surrounds during the current outbreak.

According to Commonwealth Bank’s head of Australian economics, Gareth Aird, while it’s too early to put an exact figure on Australia’s unemployment rate, the lockdowns will result in job losses.

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However, in good news for workers, the economist told nestegg, “the bulk of any lift in unemployment will be temporary”.

“But it will bring an abrupt end to the tightening in the national labour market, which was occurring at an exceptionally good pace,” Mr Aird said.

Again, not able to put an exact figure on how Australia’s lockdowns could hurt employment, AMP Capital’s Dr Shane Oliver conceded that the unemployment rate could be higher at the end of the year than it is today.

“The hit to the NSW economy could push unemployment up temporarily from 4.9 per cent currently, but it would likely quickly resume its downtrend later in the year and through next year, albeit it may not be below 5 per cent at year end as we were expecting,” Dr Oliver wrote in his economic update.

Government defends payment

With Sydney announcing tougher restrictions and Victoria announcing an extension of its lockdown, the federal government has been forced to defend its current offers of support.

The federal government had previously announced they would provide assistance to those negatively impacted by lockdowns of up to $600 per week for full-time staff members and $375 for part-time workers.

Charities, unions and social services groups have criticised the disaster payment because it excludes hundreds of thousands of people receiving other welfare payments.

They opine the current support measures do not go far enough, leaving people in need when it comes to basic standards of living.

On the other side of the debate, Government Services Minister Linda Reynolds said the payment was created to make it easier to afford the basics in life.

“This is a temporary support measure which is designed to help families put food on the table and keep the bills paid throughout this period,” she said in Perth on Monday.

“We think it is about right.”

When pressed about the support, Senator Reynolds said the split income support for individuals and businesses were better than a nationwide JobKeeper program.

“We keep evolving the payments as the circumstances require,” she said.

The ACTU disagreed, noting that the current packages do not go far enough in supporting workers, while urging the government to reinstate JobKeeper.

“The casual workers of our country should not be paying the price of Morrison’s failed quarantine facilities and vaccine rollout,” ACTU president Michele O’Neil said.

“The federal government’s emergency COVID payments are utterly insufficient. Not only are the payments below the poverty line, but they are not available at all during the first week of lockdown and they don’t guarantee workers connection to employment, unlike JobKeeper.”

Job losses rise as $155m in disaster payments is deposited into accounts
Job losses rise
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About the author

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Cameron is a journalist for Momentum Media's nestegg and Smart Property Investment. He enjoys giving Aussies practical financial tips and tricks to help grow their wealth and achieve financial independence. As a self-confessed finance nerd, Cameron enjoys chatting with industry experts and commentators to leverage their insights to grow your portfolio.

About the author

author image
Cameron Micallef

Cameron is a journalist for Momentum Media's nestegg and Smart Property Investment. He enjoys giving Aussies practical financial tips and tricks to help grow their wealth and achieve financial independence. As a self-confessed finance nerd, Cameron enjoys chatting with industry experts and commentators to leverage their insights to grow your portfolio.

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