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One million Australians expected to be unemployed by December, government warns

Bleak outlook: With a million Australians out of work and decreased social security, it was unclear if charities would be alone in picking up the slack.

CHRISTMAS stockings are going to be bare for a lot of families this year as more than a million Australians were expected to be unemployed by December.

The Australian Government warned unemployment was expected to peak at 9.25 per cent – that’s another 240,000 people out of work.

With a deepening economic crisis came a worsening participation rate, which meant more people were giving up on the idea of employment altogether.

To top it all off, promises of a return to surplus have gone less the way of the dodo and more the way of Pompeii as Australia faced its largest budget deficit since the Second World War.

Between March and May about 870,000 jobs were lost.

Another million or so Australians had their working hours reduced.

The current unemployment rate sat at a 22-year high of 7.4 per cent.

Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said he has been “favourably disposed” to extending JobSeeker beyond its designated December cut-off, but he was concerned it might create disincentives to work.

“It’s about getting the balance right so that there are incentives for people to return to work, and at the same time, providing the safety net, the cushion to the blow,” Mr Frydenberg told ABC’s Insiders.

It was foreseeable that an extended JobSeeker might see cuts to the payment size like the government’s plan for JobKeeper, which would continue until March 2021 with reduced payments after September.

But with a million Australians out of work and decreased social security, it was unclear if charities would be alone in picking up the slack.

“At the end of the day, COVID affects everyone and both those payments should be in place till the end of March (2021),” St Vincent de Paul National Council chief executive officer Toby oConnor said.

“It’s not clear why the JobSeeker arrangements have only been extended to December this year.

“I would also challenge the need to reintroduce mutual obligation requirements at a time when unemployment is rising with only one job available for every 13 people looking for work.

“Let’s hope we see a permanent increase in JobSeeker in the budget later this year.”

Mr Frydenberg also revealed Victoria accounted for half of all JobKeeper recipients.

This was not expected to change with Victoria’s surge in cases in the last month, as worse-hit states would invariably lose-out more from prolonged lockdowns and social distancing requirements in places of business.

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