Australia’s unemployment rate hits 22-year high

A surge of employment after the reopening of Australia's economy was not enough to offset the increase in the number of jobseekers.
By: | July 17, 2020

The unemployment rate in Australia shot to a record 22-year high of 7.4% in June despite a surge in employment after the reopening of its economy.

The number of unemployed people in Australia increased by 69,300 to 992,300 in June – around a third more than the jobless numbers during the 2008 global financial crisis.

That is despite employment rising by 210,800 in June following sharp declines in April and May, Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data revealed on July 16.

However, the supply of jobs has not been sufficient to meet the number of people who are looking for work.

Economists estimate the jobless rate would have been even higher at well above 11% were it not for a government wage subsidy scheme – ‘JobKeeper’- that allowed businesses to keep staff on their payrolls even though they worked zero hours.

And with the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic hitting the state of Victoria and the impending withdrawal of the government support, the jobless rate is expected to remain elevated for some time.

“Looking ahead, we continue to expect weakness in the labour market, with employment to relapse in Q4, and unemployment to increase further to 8%,” UBS economist George Tharenou said.