Payroll jobs tumbled in late August: ABS

Colin BrinsdenAAP
CBA boss Matt Comyn expects the unemployment rate to reach around 5.25 per cent by the end of 2021.
Camera IconCBA boss Matt Comyn expects the unemployment rate to reach around 5.25 per cent by the end of 2021. Credit: AAP

Payroll jobs tumbled 1.3 per cent in the final two weeks of August, with the largest hits taken in locked-down states and territories battling COVID-19 cases.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics said the fall compared with a 0.4 per cent drop in the previous two weeks.

The ABS said Thursday’s data showed the biggest decline in the fortnight to August 28 was in the ACT, down 7.1 per cent, followed by a 2.8 per cent fall in Victoria and 1.6 per cent drop in NSW.

However, as a share of the fall in payrolls in the fortnight, 54.4 per cent were in Victoria and 34.2 per cent were in NSW.

The report followed last week’s labour force report which was surveyed in the first two weeks of August and showed the number of people in employment slumped by 146,300 in the month.

This was accompanied by a huge 66 million hours of lost work.

In a recent speech, Reserve Bank of Australia governor Philip Lowe warned the unemployment rate could reach the “high fives” in the near term. It currently stands at 4.5 per cent.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia CEO Matt Comyn told federal politicians his bank expects the unemployment rate to reach around 5.25 per cent by the end of the year, before returning below five per cent in the second half of 2022.

“Importantly, recent data show the loss of income from reduced hours worked is being offset by government payments and Australians continue to accumulate increased savings,” Mr Comyn told the House of Representatives economic committee.

CBA expects the economy will contract by around 4.5 per cent in the September quarter as a result of the lockdowns, before making a partial recovery of just over two per cent in the December quarter.

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