In announcing the $1,500 per fortnight wage subsidy payment in March, the Treasury said it expects 6 million people to benefit, but as of Thursday, 14 May, that figure has surpassed the initial target and will likely grow further over the next two weeks.
“I can inform you that today the number of employees covered by those businesses that have formally enrolled in the JobKeeper program now exceeds 6 million,” Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told media on Thursday, following the publication of the latest unemployment data by the ABS.
Conceding that it was “a very tough day”, the Treasurer said that news of some 600,000 fewer Australians in a job is “heartbreaking”.
“These are families, these are friends, these are neighbours, these are workmates,” Mr Frydenberg said.
“Today’s unemployment numbers reveal the real and painful economic impact of the coronavirus.”
Speaking of the impact JobKeeper is having on the job market, Mr Frydenberg revealed that more than 860,000 businesses are now formally enrolled in the program.
Offering some consolation to the public, he noted that some 850,000 people will be back in work over the next few months and the economy will be better off by $9.4 billion a month.
“There is still a long way to go and the economic numbers will get worse before they get better. Today, our thoughts are with those Australians who are doing it tough, but they know that their government has their back,” Mr Frydenberg said.
Review in June
Over recent days, there has been a lot of speculation about whether the government will wind back JobKeeper as businesses begin to open.
Earlier this week, the Prime Minister said: “We’re six weeks into a six-month program and at this stage, the uncertainties about the global economy, let alone our own economy, are still very much there.
“And it would be very premature, I think, to get into speculations.”
Addressing the issue again on Thursday, Scott Morrison said: “We will continue to run the program as we’ve set it out to provide that support on a demand-driven basis.”
Speaking of the scheduled review of the program in June, Mr Morrison noted that it was built into the process from the start.
He explained that due to the haste with which JobKeeper was designed, the government anticipated there would be some “anomalies and issues that need to be addressed along the way”.
“The review will take into account those issues as we move forward,” the PM said.
“The time frame for this was set out at the time it went through the Parliament, and the review will provide an opportunity to see how the program is going and the experience on the ground and to make any amendments that are necessary.”
On Thursday, the ABS revealed 2.7 million Aussies either lost their job or had their hours cut in April as a result of the coronavirus restrictions which have forced thousands of businesses to shut their doors, some indefinitely.