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Victorian lockdown could cost 400,000 jobs: Frydenberg

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Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has warned Victoria faces up to 400,000 job losses as a result of harsh coronavirus restrictions, pushing the unofficial national jobless rate to about 13 per cent.

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But most other states are starting to recover strongly now business lockdowns have eased.

More than 340,000 jobs have been created across the country in the past two months.

Taking into account those still employed but working zero hours, Treasury estimates the increase has been even greater.

Of the 1.3 million Australians who lost their job or were stood down at the start of the crisis, more than half started some form of work by July.

That brought the national effective unemployment rate down to 9.9 per cent after peaking at 14.9 per cent in April.

However, the effective unemployment rate is expected to increase above 13 per cent again in the coming months, driven by Victoria’s stage four restrictions.

“We know the road to recovery will be bumpy as we have seen with the setback in Victoria,” Frydenberg said on Monday.

“However, the jobs recovery across the rest of the country gives cause for optimism that through containing the spread of the virus and reopening the economy we will get through this.”

Frydenberg pointed to various plans in place to create training places and keep apprentices on the books.

Consultants PWC commended the government for its JobTrainer package but say businesses must also step up, suggesting chief executives take responsibility rather than human resources departments.

The firm warns people without a job might be unemployed for a long time if they don’t upskill.

“Australia has an excellent system of full qualifications for those at the start of their career, however those who are looking for a new skill during their career need more options,” PWC skills director Tim Rawlings said.

The PWC report showed that even before the pandemic, one in five jobs could be replaced by automation within 15 years.

-AAP

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