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Unemployment increases reflect volatile economic climate

22 October 2020

Unemployment increases reflect volatile economic climate

Unemployment in the Hunter is on the rise again, putting paid to encouraging improvements in the job market in July and August. 

Labour force figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) issued today suggest deteriorating labour market conditions. According to the latest figures, the unemployment rate for the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie area rose from 7 per cent in August to 9 per cent in September. The unemployment rate for the remainder of the Hunter Valley increased to 8.1 per cent, up from 4.7 per cent in August.  

The number of people in work in Newcastle and Lake Macquarie fell by about 3,000 from August to September with the raw figures showing a substantial drop of about 7,000 in employed people in the Hunter Valley. 

While regional employment figured have been difficult to interpret during the COVID period, additional data released by the ABS confirm a broad-based decline in jobs, though of a smaller magnitude than the labour force survey suggests. According to single touch payroll data, payroll jobs declined by 0.7 per cent in Newcastle and 0.5 per cent across the rest of the Hunter region in September.  

Estimates compiled by Business NSW allowing adjustments for COVID variability also showed a rise in unemployment in both statistical areas. 

Hunter Business Chamber CEO Bob Hawes said a number of factors are likely to contribute to higher unemployment levels in the near term. These included an increase in the number of people looking for work, as indicated by higher participation rates, and apprehension among employers about the reduction in JobKeeper subsidy that came into effect at the end of September. 

“It will be interesting to see what the forthcoming Business NSW Business Conditions Survey has to say about business sentiment and how that may be affecting employers’ willingness to hire,” Mr Hawes said. 

“One of the initiatives we are seeking in the NSW Budget to encourage businesses to hire is an automatic payroll tax rebate for any jobs created or extended during the pandemic. 

“We believe that if a business is contributing to the state’s economic recovery by employing more staff, extending workers’ hours or increasing pay rates, they should not be penalised by having to pay more payroll tax.” 


Amy De Lore
Policy and Public Affairs Manager 
P: 02 9466 5665
M: 0419 218 830


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