Treasurer Josh Frydenberg concedes Australia’s labour market is still challenging despite a surprise fall in unemployment.
The jobless rate unexpectedly fell to 6.8 per cent in August, bucking widespread predictions of a slight rise.
“The labour market is still very challenging,” Mr Frydenberg told Sky News on Friday.
“There is a lot of uncertainty out there in the economy – not just here in Australia but globally – and that’s a reflection of the nature of the virus.”
Roughly 111,000 people gained employment in August, the third month of exceptionally strong results.
Over half the massive jobs losses in April and May have been recovered.
However such strength masked a 42,400 drop in employment numbers in Victoria, where restrictions remain.
Mr Frydenberg, a Victorian MP, said businesses in the state were still hard hit by lockdowns.
“I’m hoping and the prime minister is hoping those restrictions can be eased as quickly as it is COVID-safe to do so,” he said.
“Once that happens more business will reopen, more people will get back to work and that will be good news for the overall economy.”
Australian Industry Group chief executive Innes Willox said while the latest job figures were promising, he expected the next six months to be tough as people wean their businesses off JobKeeper wage subsidies.
“So we might be in for a rough ride here,” Mr Willox said.
“People do have to start trying to find their way back into the workforce, employers need to start to be able to find ways to employ again.”
Trade Minister Simon Birmingham admits the economic recovery won’t be plain sailing.
“That’s why our plan for the budget handed down next month is all about jobs,” Senator Birmingham told Nine.
“Jobs driven by infrastructure, by skills, by taxes, by making sure that all systems of the economy we make as efficient and as effective as possible to create even more of those jobs.”
Senator Birmingham, who is tipped to replace Finance Minister Mathias Cormann when he retires at the end of the year, reaffirmed the government was looking at bringing forward legislated tax cuts.
Video: Drop in unemployment ‘great’ for government (Sky News Australia)