The number of jobs in Australia held relatively steady through July, apart from Victoria where positions dropped by 1.5 per cent before Melbourne headed back into lockdown.
Nationwide payroll jobs declined 0.1 per cent in July, leaving them 4.5 per cent down since March, when Australia recorded its 100th confirmed COVID-19 case.
Total jobs losses in Victoria now stand 6.7 per cent lower since mid-March, the Australian Bureau of Statistics has found.
“Around 40 per cent of jobs lost in Victoria by mid-April had been regained by June 25, but by the end of July this had reduced to 24 per cent,” ABS head of labour statistics Bjorn Jarvis said on Tuesday.
The weekly payrolls data is a special series introduced to give a more frequent reading on the economic impact of coronavirus.
The monthly labour force report is due on Thursday, which economists expect will show the jobless rate rising to a 22-year high of 7.8 per cent in July, compared with 7.4 per cent in June.
Meanwhile, the evolving battle against the coronavirus is taking its toll on both business and consumer confidence.
The ANZ-Roy Morgan weekly consumer confidence index – a pointer to future retail spending – dropped 2.4 per cent to its lowest level since late April.
“Not surprisingly, confidence is weakest in Melbourne,” ANZ economist David Plank said.
The downturn in confidence is now longer than the six weeks of continuous decline during the first wave in February and March.
However, the descent is less severe than earlier in the year.
Business confidence fell sharply even before Victoria went into its stage four lockdown, but business conditions improved.
The National Australian Bank monthly business survey for July showed its confidence index tumbled 14 points, having recovered the previous month.
In contrast, business conditions rose eight points to a reading of zero for July, with trading and profitability were back in positive territory and employment continuing to improve.
“While the rebound in conditions is encouraging, the fall in confidence even prior to the announcement of stage four restrictions in Melbourne demonstrates that businesses will remain very cautious given the great uncertainty around the virus at the moment,” NAB group chief economist Alan Oster said.
“It also highlights that the business sector will require ongoing support through the recovery phase until the economy can get back on its feet.”