Workers still in demand post-JobKeeper

Strong demand for workers continued in April, undaunted by the end of the JobKeeper wage subsidy a month earlier.

The ANZ job advertisement series – a pointer to future employment – showed ads rose for an 11th straight month in April, up by a solid 4.7 per cent.

It means that job ads are now 27.8 per cent higher than pre-pandemic levels.

ANZ senior economist Catherine Birch isn’t surprised job ads have continued to strengthen.

“Businesses looking to hire new workers are, on the whole, unlikely to be those that were heavily dependent on the JobKeeper payment,” she said.

Even so, like Treasury, she estimates up to 150,000 people will have lost or will lose employment in the months following the end of JobKeeper.

“But we’ve also seen almost 160,000 additional people employed over the past two months,” Ms Birch said.

“Strong labour demand should mean that many – but not all – will be able to find work elsewhere relatively quickly.”

Other figures show manufacturing is growing at is strongest in three years and also showing no signs of slowing following the demise of JobKeeper.

“Instead the industry continued to grow and in fact lifted the pace of expansion in April,” Ai Group chief executive Innes Willox said.

The Australian Industry Group performance of manufacturing index rose by a further 1.8 per cent to 61.7 in April.

This was the seventh consecutive month of recovery from the severe disruptions of COVID-19 in the middle of 2020 and was the index’s highest monthly result since March 2018.

All six manufacturing sectors covered by the index expanded.

“To date the sector as a whole has not been adversely affected by the stronger Australian dollar, although a number of businesses are keeping a close eye on where the currency goes from here,” Mr Willox said.

“That said, the further expansion of new orders in April is an encouraging pointer to continuing positive conditions over the next couple of months.”

Meanwhile, the Greens are pushing the federal government to make billionaires and big corporations pay back their JobKeeper payments when they didn’t need them.

A Parliamentary Budget Office costing, commissioned by the Greens, shows that 65 of these big corporations would return $1.1 billion to the public purse if effectively forced to return JobKeeper. 

“While everyone else was suffering during the pandemic, billionaires and big corporations took government handouts and got even richer,” Greens leader Adam Bandt says.

“If you’re making enough money to buy a private jet or pay executive bonuses, then you can pay back JobKeeper.”

Mr Bandt will write next week to crossbench senators and MPs and Labor to ask for their support for the amendments to the budget.

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