‘Colossal challenge’: Shutdowns to slow jobs recovery as unemployed reaches 1m

Shutdowns to prevent the spread of coronavirus from Melbourne have set back chances of a rebound in the nation’s jobs market, as figures revealed almost 1 million Australians were without paid work despite the single largest jump in employment on record.

While official jobs data showed 210,000 jobs were created last month as the economy started to re-open, Prime Minister Scott Morrison conceded the “fight” to get people back into work would be challenged by efforts to bring the virus to heel.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that despite the surge in employment and record increases in hours worked and participation, the nation’s jobless rate climbed by 0.3 percentage points to a 22-year high of 7.4 per cent.

There are now 992,000 people officially unemployed, surpassing the 960,000 record set in December 1992.

Full-time employment fell by 38,100 in June, with 376,000 full-time positions gone since February. Women continue to struggle, with female full-time employment down by 5.2 per cent since February compared to 3.8 per cent for men.

The jobless rate would be almost 12 per cent but for the exclusion of 230,000 people who were considered employed in June but did not work one hour as they are being supported by the government’s JobKeeper program, while 370,000 people have left the jobs market.

Earlier this week, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the “real” jobless rate was likely to be about 13.3 per cent.

Unemployment in NSW climbed to 6.9 per cent, a half percentage point lift in the month, to reach its highest level since November 1998. The state added almost 81,000 jobs in June while the number of unemployed rose by 28,600 to 292,100, the worst result since March 1994.

In Victoria, the jobless rate jumped by 0.6 percentage points to 7.5 per cent, with 23,800 extra people out of work. Despite employment growing by 29,500 in June, the state has shed 169,000 jobs since February.

The report was based on a survey carried out when every state and territory had largely re-opened their economies. It pre-dates the latest shutdowns in Melbourne, which are expected to push up the jobless rate.