REVEALED: Jobkeeker ‘critical’ to Western Downs economy
MORE than 2000 people have applied for Jobkeeper in the Western Downs during the pandemic as businesses feel the pressure of coronavirus.
Data released by the Department of Social Services has revealed 2,330 people have applied for the wage subsidy between April and May.
Dalby had the lion’s share of applicants, with 953 applying between April and May.
Chinchilla came second with 431, then Macalister and Moonie followed with 176 applicants, and Jandowae and Tara with 118 each.
Condamine, Bell, Westmar, and Wandoan had 121, 85, 84. 67 each.
Dalby Chamber of Commerce (DCC) president Rohan May said it’s been “absolutely critical” to have Jobkeeper during the pandemic.
“It’s been fundamental to us riding this thing through, and where it’s helped is it’s given people certainty,” he said.
“They might see their employment as a bit iffy, but between Jobseeker and Jobkeeper it’s been able to let people still spend in town.”
Mr May said the retail sector in the Western Downs town had been strong on the back of these wage subsidies, saying they’d be “toast” with out.
Some businesses however had been impacted severely under the weight of coronavirus this year, with two businesses closing in Dalby.
“I think the reason why those businesses closed was because COVID-19 was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” he said.
“That it was just going to be too hard for them to continue to operate during restrictions.”
In relation to Jobseeker statistics, the Western Downs saw 1078 people apply for the wage subsidy for the month of July.
Chinchilla led the way with 433 applications, Tara with 425, and Miles/Wandoan with 220.
Youth allowance applications saw a sharp rise as well, with 96 Chinchilla applications, 54 in Tara, and 37 in Miles/Wandoan.
When this is compared to data released in March, Chinchilla only had 284 applicants to Jobseeker, Tara with 335, and Miles/Wandoan with 148.
Speaking at the Year Ahead Dinner hosted by the DCC on September 16, Mr May said the unemployment rate in the Western Downs was only 3.6 per cent, compared to the state average of 6.5 per cent.
He then compared it to Wide Bay’s average, which sat at 10.8 per cent.
“It just shows how well placed we are,” he said.
“When we all see the news about the horror stories of unemployment … we’re not in that position.”