Australia's payroll jobs fall from mid-June amid second coronavirus wave

SYDNEY (REUTERS) – Australian employment fell 1.1 per cent between mid-June and mid-July, weekly data showed on Tuesday (July 28), with the biggest loss coming from the second most populous state of Victoria which is grappling with a fresh wave of coronavirus infections.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) said total payroll jobs decreased 2.2 per cent in Victoria alone as additional Covid-19 restrictions were re-introduced following an “alarming” rise in cases recently.

The state reported 384 new Covid-19 cases on Tuesday, on top of a record 532 the previous day.

Australia has seen a surge in jobs growth in the past couple of months as authorities largely managed to control the spread of the virulent disease and began re-opening the economy. That helped recoup around 35 per cent of payroll jobs lost due the coronavirus, Tuesday’s figures showed.

All the same, it will be some time before the damage wreaked by the pandemic is fully restored.

The release, an experimental series, differs from official employment data and is based on figures from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) on wage payment by businesses.

There had been around 12.3 million people counted as employed in June, according to official employment statistics, down sharply from just over 13 million in early March before the lockdowns kicked in.

The jobless rate, which had then been steady at 5.2 per cent, has since jumped to 7.4 per cent in June.

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) has responded by slashing its cash rate to a record low 0.25 per cent in an emergency meeting in March and launching an “unlimited” bond buying programme.

It has pledged to keep interest rates at these levels till progress is made in achieving its employment and inflation goals.

Data on Wednesday is likely to show the largest decline ever in Australian consumer prices in the second quarter. Analysts polled by Reuters forecast the consumer price index (CPI) dived 2 per cent in the June quarter, from the first, causing annual prices to drop 0.4 per cent in the first negative reading since 1998.

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