While the September job figures underscored the huge economic toll taken by lockdowns, there were some positive signs for a jobs recovery.
The number of hours worked in the state last month rose 2.7 per cent reversing big declines in the previous two months.
ANZ economist Catherine Birch said the lift in hours worked was in keeping with an improvement in job advertising in NSW last month. She expects “a pretty sharp rebound” in employment between now and the end of the year.
“It’s possible that September was the trough in employment,” she said.
A report released this week by business analytics firm Purpose Bureau showed new job listings in Sydney picked up last month before lockdown restrictions were eased, with the rebound strongest in the city’s west.
NSW Opposition Leader Chris Minns said the Perrottet government needed to extend support measures, including the JobSaver business grants scheme, to help firms recover from the lockdown and boost employment.
“It’s crucial after the last 16 weeks and the sacrifices the people of south-west Sydney and western Sydney have made for the people of NSW, that we stand with them today,” he said.
Nationally, total employment fell by 138,000 in September and the unemployment rate rose from 4.5 per cent to 4.6 per cent. In lockdown-affected Victoria employment plunged by 123,000 last month, but there were healthy gains in Queensland (up 30,800) and Western Australia (up 3600).
CommSec chief economist Craig James said lockdowns had made it difficult to come to “definitive conclusions” about the longer-term prospects for the economy.
“Essentially we are in the twilight zone,” he said. “The exit from lockdown means that people will rejoin the workforce – most likely in jobs. The exit still looks more than likely to be bumpy, across regions and industries.”