The government is reportedly likely to increase the unemployment benefit, after new figures released on Thursday revealed the unemployment rate hit a 19-year high.
The JobSeeker payment of $550 per fortnight, which was boosted to $1,100 per fortnight during the coronavirus crisis via a supplement, is unlikely to return to its pre-coronavirus level, sources told the ABC.
However, it remains to be seen whether the base JobSeeker rate will be raised, or whether a new supplement will be added to it.
Thursday’s unemployment figures revealed 227,700 Australians lost their jobs in May – the second largest monthly loss of jobs on record, way ahead of the third-biggest of 65,400 in October 1982.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the Australian economy had a “long way to go” to gain back lost ground.
"It will take us, we estimate, around two years to get that back – just back to where we were before [the coronavirus] happens. We think over five years we can seek to catch where we were planning to be."
And while the government has previously flagged it is unlikely to extend income support measures, Morrison had a change of tune on JobSeeker.
"JobSeeker is the place where, if you have lost your job, JobSeeker is the place where you can connect to other employment services, to training opportunities," he said on Thursday.
The government is currently undertaking a review of JobKeeper, but ABC revealed Morrison was not in favour of extending the scheme, instead preferring to transition workers on to the JobSeeker payment.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is set to confirm the increase in July’s budget update, according to the ABC.
Government already advised to boost JobSeeker
In April, the government was advised by the Senate Community Affairs References Committee that JobSeeker needed to be increased in order to stop Australians from falling into poverty.
“The committee found that the income support system is not meeting its objective of ensuring a minimum standard of living for working-age jobseekers, as too many live in poverty,” the committee stated.
“The committee recommends that once the Coronavirus Supplement is phased out, the Australian government increase the JobSeeker Payment, Youth Allowance and Parenting Payment rates to ensure that all eligible recipients do not live in poverty.”
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