More than half of Australian businesses accessing JobKeeper

The mostly empty Garema Place in Canberra. Seven in 10 businesses have seen a fall in revenue due to coronavirus restrictions, the Australian Bureau of Statistics says. Picture: Dion Georgopoulos
The mostly empty Garema Place in Canberra. Seven in 10 businesses have seen a fall in revenue due to coronavirus restrictions, the Australian Bureau of Statistics says. Picture: Dion Georgopoulos

More than half of Australian businesses are using the JobKeeper wage subsidy to stay afloat, as questions remain about the future of the scheme.

The latest Australian Bureau of Statistics business survey shows nearly three quarters of businesses accessed government support measures as a result of COVID-19.

This included accessing wage subsidies (55 per cent) and other government support measures (38 per cent).

Businesses with between 20 and 200 staff were more likely to be on the wage subsidy than businesses with more than 200 workers (61 per cent versus 44 per cent).

Seven in 10 businesses saw their revenue fall due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Size was no barrier, with businesses with more than 200 staff reporting similar revenue declines to smaller businesses (73 per cent versus 71 per cent).

However large businesses were almost twice as likely to report a reduction in the total number of employees working for the business, compared with small businesses (41 per cent versus 23 per cent).

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It comes after Reserve Bank Governor Phillip Lowe told a Senate inquiry it may be necessary to extend the JobKeeper scheme past September if certain sectors don't bounce back.

September would be a "critical" point for the Australian economy, as mortgage deferrals also stopped at the same time.

"It's very important we don't withdraw fiscal stimulus too early," Mr Lowe said.

The wage subsidy program will cost $60 billion less than expected, after Treasury and the Australian Tax Office admitted to a forecasting error, compounded by 1000 businesses filling the form out wrong.

The program is now predicted to cover 3.5 million workers, instead of the 6.5 million workers expected initially.

However the government has rejected calls to extend the scheme to groups previously excluded, such as universities and casual workers who'd been with their employers for less than 12 months.

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This story More than half of Australian businesses accessing JobKeeper first appeared on The Canberra Times.

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