Describing the COVID-19 lockdown as this generation’s ‘war time’ experience, ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr expects the Territory’s unemployment rate to double.
The ACT currently accounts for approximately 1% of all registrations for the JobSeeker support payment since this period of economic shutdown commenced, which indicates there are about 6,000 additional people unemployed in the ACT.
Mr Barr said the initial indications are that the ACT’s unemployment rate will double from 2.9% up toward 6%.
Due to the ACT’s unemployment rate being the lowest in the country, Mr Barr says “we’re going to be in a better position comparatively than every other state and territory”.
“We’ll get the official confirmation of unemployment over the coming months, but at this stage the expectations are that it would double in the ACT like it has doubled or will double in other jurisdictions.”
Another factor placing Canberra better than the rest of the country is the public sector, which will shield the Territory from the severity of the economic downturn hitting the rest of Australia.
The Commonwealth employs one in four Canberrans, while the ACT Government employs one in 10.
Mr Barr said Australia will need to rebuild certain facets of the economy to emerge from this economic shutdown successfully.
“If we are successful in containing and eliminating the virus domestically … that means having a hard quarantine border for the country, and that means no imports.
“You’ll see some innovation and you’ll see some job creation, but it will take a while.
“Australia didn’t recover from the Second World War for more than a decade, so we need to brace ourselves for a long journey back.”
Talking to how the ACT economy will surface out of the COVID-19 shutdown, the Chief Minister said there are “no easy answers”.
“There are some parts of our economy that are growing really strongly … we need more of that, and that’s what we will be working towards in the coming months.
“Although there are thousands of people out of work now, there will be new job opportunities that will emerge as industry sectors innovate,” he said.