CANBERRA, AAP – The Morrison government’s decision to ditch its COVID-19 vaccine timetable, coming so shortly after the demise of the JobKeeper wage subsidy, could prove a double whammy for confidence.
Surveys for both consumer and business confidence are released this week – key pointers for future household spending, business investment and hiring intentions.
The ANZ-Roy Morgan consumer confidence index last week suffered its biggest drop since the start of the pandemic in the wash-up of the lockdown in Greater Brisbane and the end of JobKeeper.
The weekly survey, conducted at the weekend for release on Tuesday, will at least capture last week’s decision by the nation’s health authorities to recommend the AstraZeneca vaccine not be given to people under 50.
This followed cases abroad of blood-clotting among younger people after having the vaccine. Only one such case has so far been recorded in Australia.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced late on Sunday the government would no longer set targets for the remainder of the vaccine rollout, a timetable that was already in tatters.
The influential monthly National Australia Bank business survey is also released on Tuesday, while the monthly Westpac-Melbourne Institute consumer sentiment survey is issued on Wednesday.
“The vaccine hold-up is no doubt an economic setback. It remains to be seen how material a setback,” St George economist Matthew Bunny said.
“Delays in the rollout increase the risk of disruptive snap lockdowns and state border closures. It will also postpone the return of international tourists and students.”
The Australian Bureau of Statistics will also release its weekly payrolls jobs report on Tuesday, a prelude to the key monthly labour force figures for March on Thursday.
Both sets of figures will provide clues to state of the jobs market before the JobKeeper program finished.
Economists expect Thursday’s figures could see a further fall in the unemployment rate to 5.7 per cent after the surprising fall to 5.8 per cent in February, based on a spread of reports showing strong demand for workers.