Victoria’s Department of Treasury and Finance expects job losses in the state to surge past 300,000 as a result of the escalation to stage 4 restrictions in metropolitan Melbourne and stage 3 in rural Victoria.
The grim outlook was reiterated on Tuesday by fresh payroll data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, which revealed a 1.5 per cent drop in Victoria through July ahead of the introduction of tougher restrictions.
“Around 40 per cent of jobs lost in Victoria by mid-April had been regained by 25 June, but by the end of July, this had reduced to 24 per cent,” Bjorn Jarvis, head of labour statistics at the ABS, said.
Victoria’s figures contrast to a steady number of payroll jobs nationwide, with a slight decline of 0.1 of a percentage point in July. However, looking at the broader picture, payroll jobs remained 4.5 per cent below mid-March, when Australia recorded its 100th confirmed COVID-19 case.
The accommodation and food services and arts and recreation services industries were hit the hardest during the COVID-19 period.
While these industries saw the largest increases in payroll jobs since mid-April, up by 26.6 per cent and 18.2 per cent, respectively, they remained 17.9 per cent and 15.1 per cent lower than mid-March.
Last week, the government announced it is easing the eligibility criteria for JobKeeper 2.0 by adding an extra $15 billion to the scheme to cushion the blow of Victoria’s tough restrictions.
Under the new rules, businesses will only need to show that their GST turnover had fallen in the quarter ending in September to qualify for the scheme’s extension.
In addition, from 3 August 2020, the relevant date of employment will move from 1 March to 1 July 2020, increasing employee eligibility for the existing scheme and the extension.
“We believe that about 530,000 extra Victorian employees will now join the JobKeeper program over the September quarter; that means 1.5 million Victorian employees will be using JobKeeper,” Josh Frydenberg said at the time.
While the changes will apply across the country, the Treasurer has said he expected $13 billion of the money to go to Victoria.