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Jobless numbers blow out in the southeast, Gold Coast to hit 17 per cent

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Queensland’s economy will plunge by more than 7 per cent this year as the lockdown creates havoc with the state’s finances.

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The findings come as QSuper said about 70 per cent of Queenslanders had been financially affected by the shut down, however the majority wouldn’t draw on their superannuation to get through the crisis.

The statewide survey has revealed almost two-thirds of respondents (64 per cent) wouldn’t access their super early if they were eligible, while those aged 35 to 49 would be the most likely to consider it.

Almost a quarter of the Queenslanders surveyed (21 per cent ) had their working hours cut by more than 20 per cent last month and 43 per cent expect to have less income within the next three months. Average working hours dropped from 32 hours a week in March to 25 hours a week in April.

The number one worry on the minds of Queenslanders was the loss of financial freedom, with almost half of those surveyed (49 per cent) concerned the coronavirus will leave them with less disposable income to spend on non-essentials.

Queenslanders aged 18 to 34 were the most concerned overall about the financial impact of the coronavirus.

According to a Conus/CBC Staff Selection Regional Employment Trend analysis the southeast will be hit hard by unemployment, but so too will tourist hotspots such as Cairns where unemployment will hit 15.4 per cent and stay elevated for much longer with the figure likely to be 11.7 per cent by year-end.

“We are now expecting Queensland unemployment to get as high as 14.3 per cent before falling to 9.1 per cent by the end of the year with Gross State Product declining 5.4 per cent over 2020,” Conus economist Pete Faulkner said.

His analysis shows the Gold Coast jobless level will reach 17.5 per cent in June before falling back to 11 per cent by December. The Sunshine Coast will hit 16.8 per cent and then 10.9 per cent.

In Toowoomba, it will reach 11.6 per cent and then fall to 7 per cent. Ipswich will hit 16.7 per cent and fall to 10.3 per cent, while Logan will hit 16.3 per cent before falling back to 10.8 per cent.

Townsville will reach to 16.4 per cent before dropping to 11.1 per cent.

Jobs in Queensland have already declined by 6.5 per cent since Australia recorded its 100th COVID-19 case on March 14, according to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics data, Treasurer Jackie Trad said.

However, it is the second-lowest figure in the country and below the decline of 7.5 per cent nationally between March 14 and April 18.

“In accommodation and food services, the ABS finds jobs in Queensland have fallen 30.1 per cent and fallen 26.7 per cent in arts and recreational services,” Trad added.

“It’s only in health care and social assistance that we’ve seen a rise in jobs since 14 March, up 1.6 per cent.”

While business has been left devastated by the COVID-19 shutdown, the Government has said it will not move to reform the state’s taxes before the next election.

And the decision has been endorsed by the Property Council.

“Certainly, prior to this crisis we held the view that there was a clear need for property tax reform in Queensland. In recent years we have seen large property tax increases that have been detrimental and unsustainable.

And in the midst of this crisis we would agree that tax reform should be firmly on the agenda as a necessary lever to drive medium and long-term economic recovery,” the Property Council’s Chris Mountford said.

“However in the short-term, while governments are still pulling emergency levers, it is reasonable that governments at all levels don’t leap to specific reform decisions or outcomes prematurely.

At this point, we think it would be more appropriate to look at options like the short-term removal of stamp duty to drive demand and activity, rather than locking in a specific medium-term reform target.

“So for us, in the short term we think the Government should hold its focus on using tax levers to drive economic stimulus as they have done with the recent land tax and payroll refunds. ”

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