Payroll jobs rose after Melbourne lockdown

Employment conditions partially recovered after Victoria lifted its latest lockdown, but employers have since had to deal with multiple state restrictions.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics’ latest payroll jobs report showed a rise of 0.3 per cent in the fortnight to June 19, following a 0.8 per cent decline in the previous two weeks.

Payroll jobs rose 0.4 per cent in Victoria as restrictions eased, having dropped 2.1 per cent during lockdown.

ABS head of labour statistics Bjorn Jarvis said early signs of recovery were evident in Melbourne.

However, more recent lockdowns across the nation have hit consumer confidence, spelling trouble for retailers.

The weekly ANZ-Roy Morgan consumer confidence – a pointer to future household spending – has dropped 3.9 per cent.

Confidence in Sydney, which remains in lockdown, slumped 8.9 per cent, while there were also also declines in most other cities, including areas not directly affected by restrictions.

“With the lockdowns in Brisbane and Perth coming to an end, we can expect confidence, and consumer spending, to rebound reasonably quickly given past experience, ” ANZ economist David Plank said.

“But much will depend on whether restrictions in Sydney are able to be eased.”

The Sydney lockdown is due to end on Friday but could be extended.

A separate survey found Australians were not overly confident about the economic outlook, with less than one-in-five thinking the nation would rebound to be stronger than before COVID-19.

The Essential poll found around two in five thought the economy would be impacted for at least six to 12 months and stagnate thereafter.

A quarter thought the COVID-19 impact would be long lasting, resulting in a lengthy recession.

The economic impact of the nation’s ongoing battle with the pandemic will form part of the Reserve Bank of Australia’s considerations at its monthly board meeting.

The RBA is widely expected to keep its key cash rate unchanged at a record low 0.1 per cent, where it has stood since November last year.

The central bank has repeatedly said interest rates will not rise until inflation is sustainably within the two to three per cent target, which it does not expect to occur until at least 2024.

However, there is growing speculation among economists this could be brought forward to 2023 or even earlier given the strength of the economy.

The RBA is due to make decisions on two policy tools that run alongside the cash rate – its three-year bond yield target and bond buying program – aimed at keeping market interest rates and borrowing costs low.

RBA governor Philip Lowe will hold a rare media conference after the board meeting.

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