JobSeeker payments likely to increase as Australia sees highest unemployment rate in almost 20 years

JobSeeker payments likely to increase as Australia sees highest unemployment rate in almost 20 years

Words by Kate Streader

The Australian Bureau of Statistics recorded an unemployment rate of 7.1 per cent in May.

Australia has reached its highest unemployment rate since 2001, with the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealing approximately 227,700 jobs were lost last month, causing the national unemployment rate to jump from 6.4 per cent in April to 7.1 per cent in June.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison addressed the figures in a press conference, saying, “The sad truth is, these numbers are not surprising given the circumstances.”

The Prime Minister pointed out that the figures were recorded before the federal government’s three-step plan to ease social distancing restrictions came into effect, meaning that some Australians may have since returned to work.

“That is of some comfort, that we’ll see some Australians make their way back into employment, but I wouldn’t be looking to overstate that,” he said. “While Australia is doing better than almost any other developed economy in the world, if you’ve lost your job, that is no comfort.”

Morrison also emphasised the National Cabinet’s dedication to getting Australians back into work, though he estimates it will be two years before the Australian economy fully recovers from the pandemic.

With the government’s JobKeeper payment scheme, which is currently helping keep thousands of Australians employed, set to expire in September, it is unlikely the JobSeeker payments will return to its previous rate which equated to just $40 per day.

According to the ABC, the payments are likely to be increased either by a rise in the rate itself or a new supplement which will be added to JobSeeker payments. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg will confirm the next steps for the government’s economic plan, including the future of JobSeeker and JobKeeper payments, in July.

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