NSW govt confident despite job losses

Deputy Premier John Barilaro said he was confident the NSW economy would bounce back.
Deputy Premier John Barilaro said he was confident the NSW economy would bounce back.

Unemployment in NSW has risen amid the state's COVID-19 lockdowns, but the government vows the economy will bounce back.

Some 162,100 fewer people in NSW were working in August, a dip of 4.2 per cent from July, new figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show.

The unemployment rate now stands at 4.9 per cent, up 0.4 points on the previous month.

The figures also show a dramatic cutback in hours worked, with that number dipping further below the trough in April 2020.

Monthly hours worked in NSW were 34.9 million lower in August than in July, a drop of 6.5 per cent.

It follows a 7.0 per cent fall in the previous month, and makes August's monthly hours worked 11.1 per cent lower than in March 2020.

Deputy Premier John Barilaro on Thursday acknowledged the prolonged lockdown had brought the NSW economy "to its knees".

"This is the real cost of the pandemic ... the economy had to be shut down, businesses (are on the brink of closure)," he told reporters.

Small and medium businesses have borne the brunt of it and the pain will continue until lockdown ends, he said.

But the deputy premier said he was confident the economy would bounce back.

"We are NSW, we are the engine room for the nation," he said.

"We've been cautious but we've also been bold."

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet is working on a recovery package for business to come into effect next month.

BIS Oxford Economics expert Sarah Hunter predicted that with Sydney's lockdown stretching beyond September, the 2021 lockdown will hurt the economy even more than the first COVID-19 wave in 2020.

She said the economy will see a larger decline in activity in the third quarter of 2021 than in the second quarter of 2020.

Australian Associated Press