Two million workers have moved off JobKeeper payments in two months

More than two million workers have left the JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme since the Morrison Government tightened eligibility and reduced payment rates at the end of September.

Nov 30, 2020, updated Nov 30, 2020
CentreLink queues may shrink further if employers embrace diversity in their recruitment plans. (File image).

CentreLink queues may shrink further if employers embrace diversity in their recruitment plans. (File image).

The number of JobKeeper recipients has fallen from 3.6 million to 1.5 million in less than two months, outperforming predictions in the federal budget.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said fewer employers relying on the payments was a sign of economic recovery.

“The economic recovery across the country is well underway,” he told the Seven Network on Monday.

“Australia is actually gaining momentum with our economic recovery.”

Frydenberg said Australia would still face economic difficulties in the months ahead as other countries went through their second and third coronavirus waves.

“That’s going to affect Australia as well, because they’re our export markets,” he said.

“We may be an island geographically but we’re certainly not an island when it comes to the economy, so let’s just wait and see what happens into the new year.”

We’re seeing strong momentum in the economic recovery and the JobKeeper numbers for the month of October are better than what we forecast at Budget,” Frydenberg said.

The JobKeeper wage subsidy fell from $1500 to $1200 a fortnight at the end of September and is due to fall to $1000 from January to March, when the scheme is scheduled to end.

The fresh figures come as federal parliamentarians prepare to vote on welfare rules and unemployment benefits.

Meanwhile, thousands of Victorian workers are returning to the office this week for the first time in nine months.

Since the first wave of COVID-19 hit in March, Victorians able to carry out their duties from home were told to steer clear of offices including Melbourne’s CBD.

That will change from Monday, with workplaces welcoming 25 per cent of their staff back on site.

It means businesses with fewer than 40 staff can have 10 on-site, as long as they comply with prescribed density limits.

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Premier Daniel Andrews announced the change more than a week ago, with Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton confirming it would come into effect just before midnight on Sunday.

The state’s public service is not incorporated in the new edict and Sutton clarified office workers must wear face masks when indoors.

The latest rule change comes as Victoria notched its 30th consecutive day without a new coronavirus case.

The state reported no new cases or lives lost on Sunday from just under 6000 tests.

Epidemiologists classify 28 days with no new locally acquired infections as the marker for virus “elimination”, given that period represents two 14-day incubation periods.

The milestone means other states have started welcoming travellers from previously virus-hit Victoria once again.

NSW lifted restrictions for Victorian travellers last Monday, while Queensland and South Australia will reopen their borders from Tuesday.

Western Australia is now the only state or territory with closed borders to Victoria, but Premier Mark McGowan expects to give an update this week.

Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services, meanwhile, has detected coronavirus fragments in sewage at a treatment plant in Corio.

Those who live in or visited Geelong’s northern suburbs and Lara between November 21 and 23 should seek testing if they experience any respiratory symptoms.

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