COVID's 'chilling effect' on new staff hires as profits plummet

Illawarra Business Chamber calls for a jobs guarantee for youth post COVID-19

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The Illawarra Business Chamber has highlighted a Youth Jobs Guarantee among 10 priorities needed to recharge the economy as businesses recover from COVID-19....

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The Illawarra Business Chamber has highlighted a Youth Jobs Guarantee among 10 priorities needed to recharge the economy as businesses recover from COVID-19.

The Top 10 is detailed in a new report called Back On Track, produced by parent body Business NSW.

IBC executive director Adam Zarth said the economic and fiscal update from the Federal Treasurer this week must give the business sector confidence about the road ahead.

"Uncertainty about the health crisis and the future of business support programs, such as JobKeeper, is having a massive chilling effect on the appetite of business owners to hire staff and invest for the future," he said.

"The Recovery Drivers discussed in our report are aimed at ensuring that businesses stay open, staff are rehired and that the foundations for future economic growth are set in place.

"These Drivers include a federal and state government compact committing to returning unemployment to below 6 per cent by June 2022."

Jobs guarantee: IBC executive director Adam Zarth. Picture: Greg Ellis.

Jobs guarantee: IBC executive director Adam Zarth. Picture: Greg Ellis.

Mr Zarth said that would provide greater certainty on the pathway ahead for businesses currently affected by restrictions, supporting young people through a Youth Jobs Guarantee and replacing JobKeeper with a new rebate to protect vulnerable jobs."

"Our future living standards depend on our resolve to reduce the cost of doing business and improving competition in markets," he said.

"That is why we urgently need regulatory reform to drive business growth, concrete steps to improve NSW's energy outlook and investment in new infrastructure to unlock economic capacity in regional areas such as the Illawarra.

"We would also like to see greater co-operation, including through National Cabinet, to implement overdue reforms to federal financial relations, payroll tax and workplace relations."

Business NSW conducted a Business Recovery Survey of more than a thousand businesses in June 2020 to better understand the operating environment and to identify what needs to be done to navigate the crisis through to the other side.

The survey suggests there are significant challenges ahead:

  • On average business revenue has fallen 43 percent, around half of which is due to government restrictions on trade and a third due to lack of customer demand.
  • Around one in three recipient businesses have not planned for when JobKeeper payments stop.
  • One in two recipients indicated they will be unable to maintain current hours and headcount after JobKeeper ends.
  • Outbreaks in Victoria, and the subsequent risks to NSW, underscore the persistent threat posed by COVID-19. Before Victoria was locked-down, 24 percent expected the economy to strengthen over the next three months. Now only 19 percent are expecting an improvement.
  • Tourism, construction, transport, hospitality and education businesses are least likely to be back to normal by October.
  • Only 29 percent of businesses said they would likely be in a position to hire new staff by October 2020.

Mr Zarth said despite the challenges ahead, there was a real opportunity to take advantage of Australia's success in managing the health crisis.

"Two in three businesses believe Australia will recover faster than comparable countries, while eight in ten businesses expect to be operating back to normal by October," he said

"In this global crisis, Australia has an opportunity to seize and then capitalise on its reputation as a safe and reliable place to invest, work and study."

The Illawarra Business Chamber

The story COVID's 'chilling effect' on new staff hires as profits plummet first appeared on Illawarra Mercury.

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