Regions hit hardest when JobKeeper dries up
More than 250,000 Queenslanders were still relying on JobKeeper towards the end of last year, with fears there will be job losses across crucial industries - particularly tourism - when the subsidy dries up next month.
New Treasury figures reveal more than 500,000 JobKeeper recipients have come off the pandemic subsidy, but some key tourism hot spots have remain disproportionately impacted.
The Gold Coast is home to 49,200 of Queensland's 259,000 KobKeeper recipients, with 16,600 in Cairns.
With premiers continuing to enforce rapid-fire lockdowns at short notice, tourism operators fear they are at greatest risk of an economy yet to hit its stride across the board.
It comes as the government's powerful expenditure review committee is this fortnight expected to consider a new support program for the industry.
The government is banking on the economic recovery to keep most of the Queenslanders out of the dole queues, with the data showing two-thirds of those once on the wage subsidy already no longer need it.
Data showed the number of people coming off JobKeeper, as businesses get back on track or people find new jobs, was "gathering momentum" towards the end of last year.
Treasury secretary Stephen Kennedy last week said there would be "some job losses" when the program ends but it would not be total.
There were a record number of job vacancies in January as more businesses looked for staff.
While Cairns and the Gold Coast continue to struggle, central Queensland, Townsville, Wide Bay and Toowoomba have made the biggest improvements in businesses coming off the wage subsidy.
It demonstrates that many tourism-centric regions are more dependent on the payments than the rest of the state, as the government's expenditure review committee is this fortnight expected to consider a new support program for the industry.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, making the case for JobKeeper to end after March as planned, said more than 520,000 businesses and two million Australians no longer needed the subsidy as the economy recovered.
"These improvements have been broad based across the country and we have seen encouraging signs across all sectors," he said.
"We know some families and businesses are still doing it tough and my message to those people is the Morrison Government continues to have your back."
He said 785,000 jobs had been created nationally in the past seven months, while measures including tax cuts, the JobMaker hiring credit for under 35s and asset write offs were intended to continue to provide support.
The Treasury data showed there were 728,538 Queenslanders in jobs supported by JobKeeper subsidies during the from April to September.
But this had dropped to 258,951 Queenslanders over the December quarter.
This included 49,222 workers on the Gold Coast, compared to a height of 120,000 during the first six months of JobKeeper.
There were 16,617 workers in Cairns, down from 36,600 at the height of the program, and 21,326 on the Sunshine Coast down from 63,000.
The 258,000 Queenslanders on JobKeeper was at the peak of the December quarter, but had dropped about 220,000 as of November.
Federal Labor and Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk have been ramping up pressure on the Morrison Government to continue JobKeeper after March, at least for the tourism industry which has been particularly damaged by the end of international visitors.
Opposition leader Anthony Albanese in Queensland last week said there were a range of sectors still doing it tough.
"The reason for wage subsidies being put in place is still there. And that support needs to remain," he said.
Originally published as Regions hit hardest when JobKeeper dries up