Australian gov't expects widespread job losses with end of coronavirus wage subsidy
Up to 150,000 Australians are expected to lose their jobs when the government's coronavirus wage subsidy scheme ends late in March.
Steven Kennedy, secretary of the Treasury, told a Senate hearing on Wednesday that between 100,000 and 150,000 recipients of the JobKeeper wage subsidy will become unemployed when the scheme ends on March 28.
He said that most of those would be people on zero or low hours in industries hit hardest by the pandemic such as tourism and events but that it was the right time for JobKeeper to end.
"In our view, it is appropriate for the program to end as other support measures take effect and to allow the economy to continue adjusting," Kennedy said.
JobKeeper was introduced at the end of March 2020 to stimulate the economy amid lockdowns. It has cost the government 90 billion Australian dollars (about 68.3 billion U.S. dollars).
According to government analysis without JobKeeper Australia's unemployment rate would have peaked at 15 percent during the pandemic compared to the actual peak of 7.5 percent.
Kennedy revealed that approximately 1.1 million people have been receiving JobKeeper in the first quarter of 2021.
Industries including tourism and events have called for the scheme to be extended, warning that businesses will be forced to close without ongoing support.
"We are continuing to closely monitor the situation in different sectors and do expect that the end of the JobKeeper program will lead to some businesses closing and jobs being lost," Kennedy said.
"However, we remain confident that there will continue to be a broad-based recovery in the labor market over 2021, given recent strong employment growth and the decreasing reliance on JobKeeper over recent months."