Australia’s jobless rate is tipped to nearly double to 10 per cent for the June quarter because of the coronavirus pandemic, new Treasury analysis shows.
But Treasury estimates the unemployment figure could have hit 15 per cent without the $130 billion JobKeeper payment.
In February, before the pandemic led to major shutdowns and mass standdowns of workers, the jobless rate was 5.1 per cent.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg says more than 800,000 Australian businesses have registered for the JobKeeper payment.
“Every arm of government and industry is working to keep Australians in jobs and businesses in business,” he said on Tuesday.
“The economic shock facing the global economy from the coronavirus is far more significant than what was seen during the global financial crisis.”
But Australia continued to hold its AAA credit rating, one of only ten countries to do so, Mr Frydenberg said.
Australians will get the first taste of what the pandemic has meant for unemployment when March labour force figures are released on Thursday.
Economists’ forecasts centre on an unemployment rate of 5.4 per cent for March, compared with 5.1 per cent in February.
Predictions range as high as 5.9 per cent, a level not seen since early 2016.
Mr Frydenberg on Sunday warned Australians to expect a significant rise in the unemployment rate alongside a big reduction in the rate of economic growth as a result of the coronavirus crisis.
“That’s a reflection of the queues we have seen outside Centrelink and that is the reflection of the health restrictions that have had a severe economic impact,” he told the ABC’s Insiders television program.