Payroll data suggests jobs increased as JobSeeker subsidy ended

Employment rose in mid-April, but the Australian Bureau of Statistics says it remains inconclusive what impact the end of the JobKeeper wage subsidy has had on the labour market.

May 11, 2021, updated May 11, 2021
Jobseekers over 55 will receive increased welfare payments (Photo: AAP Image/Joel Carrett)

Jobseekers over 55 will receive increased welfare payments (Photo: AAP Image/Joel Carrett)

The ABS’ payroll jobs report, a precursor to the official labour force figures later this month, showed employment rose 0.4 per cent in the fortnight to April 24, following a 1.6 per cent drop in the previous two weeks.

“Seasonality around Easter in the previous fortnight makes it difficult to gauge any effect of the end of the JobKeeper wage subsidy on March 28,” ABS head of labour statistics Bjorn Jarvis said.

“The latest fortnight of payroll jobs data continues to show some of the seasonality around school holidays.”

Treasury had forecast that up to 150,000 people could have lost their jobs as a result of the end of JobKeeper.

However, economists are growing in confidence that job losses could be absorbed as a result of the strength of the jobs market.

The fact that payroll jobs rose will be music to Josh Frydenberg’s ears as he prepares to hand down his budget on Tuesday night.

The treasurer has committed to pursuing an unemployment rate below five per cent in this budget.

The jobless rate was 5.6 per cent in March.

Meanwhile, Australians more broadly may need some budget cheer with confidence dropping in the past week.

The ANZ-Roy Morgan consumer confidence index sank one per cent, which was largely seen as being the result of the mystery COVID-19 case in Sydney.

Confidence among Sydneysiders plunged 7.6 per cent.

However, ANZ head of economics David Plank points out the proportion of respondents expecting ‘bad times’ in the ‘current economic conditions’ component dropped to just 12 per cent, its lowest level in over 40 years.

“This sharp improvement … points to positive sentiment about the near-term outlook being very widespread,” Plank said.

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