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JobKeeper anxiety is eroding consumer confidence - survey

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Australians are becoming a little anxious about the demise of the JobKeeper wage subsidy that is due to finish at the end of the month.

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The weekly ANZ-Roy Morgan consumer confidence index dropped 0.9 per cent, more than halving the gain of the previous week.

Most of the sub-indices declined, the biggest drop being respondents’ views on their current financial conditions which declined 2.5 per cent.

“It is possible the drop in confidence could be linked to consumers being apprehensive about a future without the JobKeeper program,” ANZ head of Australian economics David Plank said.

There are concerns the end of the program will see the recent steady decline in the unemployment rate come to an abrupt halt.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg concedes there could be a bumpy few months ahead.

“Of course there are some on JobKeeper who are going to struggle into other jobs, but overall there is going to be a steady momentum in the right direction over time,” he told ABC radio.

Shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers said any job losses associated with the end of JobKeeper are in the hands of the treasurer and Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

“If you cut JobKeeper, you cut jobs. It’s that simple,” Chalmers told reporters in Canberra.

“Hundreds of thousands of Australian workers and small businesses face a very uncertain time when JobKeeper is cut in the next two weeks.”

In the interim, economists are expecting the unemployment rate to fall to 6.3 per cent, or possibly lower when labour force figures are released on Thursday, from 6.4 per cent in January.

They also expect a further 30,000 people to have joined the workforce in the month.

Ahead of this key data, the Australian Bureau of Statistics will release its weekly payroll jobs and wages report on Tuesday.

The previous report – a series introduced to provide a more frequent assessment of the impact of the recession on employment – showed about 85 per cent of the jobs lost at the start of the pandemic had been regained.

The ABS will also release its capital city house price index for the December quarter.

Private sector analysis shows house prices are rising at the fastest pace since 2003, a development the Reserve Bank of Australia is keeping an eye on to ensure lending standards are maintained.

The central bank will on Tuesday release the minutes of its March 2 board meeting, when it kept the cash rate at a record low 0.1 per cent.

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