Unemployment soars as virus pummels economy

By Lachlan Maddock
 — 1 minute read

Unemployment will rise steeply while the number of Australians seeking early access to their superannuation has nearly doubled.

While the federal government’s stimulus spending has so far amounted to $320 billion – 16.4 per cent of GDP – the unemployment rate is still set to double.

“Given these actions and the position of economic strength from which we approached the coronavirus crisis Treasury expects the unemployment rate to rise to 10 per cent in the June quarter from 5.1 per cent in the most recent data,” Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said in a statement.


“In the absence of the $130 billion JobKeeper payment, Treasury estimates the unemployment rate would be 5 percentage points higher and would peak at around 15 per cent.”

More than 800,000 businesses have already accessed the JobKeeper payment, which provides employers $1,500 per fortnight for employees. 

“The government’s economic support measures are temporary, targeted and proportionate to the challenge we face and will ensure Australia bounces back stronger on the other side, without undermining the structural integrity of the budget which Australians have worked so hard to restore,” Mr Frydenberg said. 

The statement comes as the ATO reveals that more than 618,000 Australians have lodged expressions of interest in the government’s early access superannuation scheme, nearly doubling from the previously reported figure of 361,000 – but still short of Treasury predictions. 

“It’s important to note that when we announced the early access to superannuation tax-free that was before the JobKeeper package was announced, so I expect the numbers that ultimately access it will be lower than maybe initially thought,” Mr Frydenberg told media. 

Treasury currently estimates that $27 billion will be withdrawn from Australian superannuation funds, but that number could rise when the scheme opens on 20 April.


Unemployment soars as virus pummels economy
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