SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australian employment was steady through July, weekly data showed on Tuesday, though the southeastern state of Victoria, which is grappling with a fresh wave of coronavirus infections, suffered a setback.
The number of payroll jobs nationwide eased 0.1% in July while Victoria recorded a fall of 1.5% as strict mobility restrictions and curfews came into effect, data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) showed.
“With stage four restrictions now in effect, we anticipate further job losses across (Victoria), particularly in vulnerable sectors such as hospitality and retail,” said Callam Pickering, an economist at global job site Indeed. “Recovery won’t be possible until restrictions are eased.”
The release, an experimental series, differs from the monthly official employment data and is based on wage payment figures from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).
The monthly figures, due later this week, are expected to show a jump in the national jobless rate to a 22-year high of 7.8% even though employment is expected to rise by 40,000, according to a median forecast of economists in a Reuters poll.
Australia had seen a surge in jobs growth in the past couple of months as authorities largely managed to control the spread of the virus and began re-opening the economy. That helped recoup many of the jobs lost due the coronavirus.
Tuesday’s data showed payroll jobs still remained 4.5% below mid-March, when Australia recorded its 100th confirmed COVID-19 case.
Other data also pointed to the hit to Victoria from the renewed wave of coronavirus infections.
A measure of Australian business conditions rose in July though confidence was badly hit in Victoria.
A separate weekly survey of consumer confidence from ANZ also out on Tuesday showed sentiment had slipped for a seventh straight week as the latest lockdown took a heavy toll on Victorians.
(Reporting by Swati Pandey; Editing by Shri Navaratnam and Sam Holmes)