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Anxious wait to see how many Australians lose JobKeeper

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The number of Australian workers receiving JobKeeper payments has continued to fall, ahead of the scheme coming to an end next month.

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New figures from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) show that 1.54 million employees collected the wage subsidy between October and December last year, compared to 3.6 million between April and September.

Western Australia, the Northern Territory and South Australia reported the largest percentage of workers coming off the payment.

Victoria had the smallest drop and still has the highest number of people on JobKeeper at 626,000 due to the long lockdown during winter last year.

JobKeeper was set to end last year before the Government extended the support, but cut the fortnightly rate and tightened the eligibility.

Treasury initially estimated there would be 2.2 million workers on the payment in the December quarter, however the latest data from the ATO is better than expected.

In October there were 1.63 million workers that received JobKeeper and that dropped to 1.6 million in November before it dipped further to 1.54 million by the end of December.

About 87 per cent of those workers took home the top payment rate of $1200 a fortnight.

That payment has dropped to $1000 a fortnight since January but the data on how many people receive that support is not yet available.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has used the figures to back the Government’s decision to end JobKeeper on March 28.

“These improvements have been broad-based across the country and we have seen encouraging signs across all sectors,” he said.

While some industries have bounced back since the height of the pandemic, others are still struggling to find their feet.

The ATO figures showed the number of workers on JobKeeper in retail dropped by 68 per cent, while transport, postal and warehousing still struggled, with only a 36 per cent drop in the number of people on the wage subsidy.

There is no data for the tourism sector as a whole because the industry covers a wide range of jobs, from tour operators, to cafes.

However, accommodation and food services reported a 52 per cent drop in the number of people on JobKeeper and the Treasurer pointed to figures from some key tourism markets to show improvements have been made, such as a 55 per cent drop of workers on the wage subsidy in Cairns and a 59 per cent reduction on the Gold Coast.

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