Jobs figures released today are a stark reminder of the challenges everyday Australians face through the COVID-19 pandemic, Business Council chief executive Jennifer Westacott said.
“Economic data is more than just numbers in a spreadsheet. This is about people’s lives. These numbers show that almost 600,000 people have lost their jobs, that people are working 9 per cent fewer hours and over 210,000 more young people are out of work – that means they have less money in their pockets and less choices for their future.
“Behind every figure in today’s labour force numbers are over one million anxious and uncertain Australians who have just lost a job or don’t have the hours of work they need to cover their bills.
“We have to get back to basics, everything we do over the next six months has got to be focused on whether it will get people back to their jobs safely and create new jobs.
“Every choice we make over the next six months should be considered through this lens: Will this get someone back to work safely? Does this create a new job? Will it open a business or make it easier to create a new one? Or will it give someone the skills they need to find a new job?
“The government’s JobKeeper program has helped keep millions of Australians employed, now securing a strong recovery will depend on getting people back to work and creating new jobs.
“The best way to deliver new jobs and secure work is with secure businesses that can invest and grow.
“Thanks to the hard work of our entire community, Australia is better placed than most to recover but we will need a growing economy to avoid a long tail of unemployment.
“Improving the living standards and opportunities Australians have built over the past 30 years will require more than simply returning to our pre-COVID-19 levels of investment and growth.
“Businesses are ready to work with governments, unions, employees and suppliers to get to work on the reform Australians desperately need.
“Together we can give Australians the best skills in the world, strengthen our workplace relations system so it works for employees and employers, as well as make it easier to invest and do business but only with shared purpose.
“Australians simply can’t afford for us to waste the unprecedented level of co-operation we have achieved to date.”