Scott Morrison has pledged his government will secure the economic recovery from the pandemic, saying it can’t be taken for granted.
As he campaigns ahead of a federal election due early next year, the prime minister warned Australia faces plenty of challenges and all sorts of headwinds.
“It’s wonderful to see our cities opening up again. It’s wonderful to see those borders coming down before Christmas, this is all tremendous,” Mr Morrison told reporters in Sydney in Thursday.
“But that alone is not going to to ensure that we really secure this economic recovery.”
He said new analysis of Australian Bureau of Statistics data based on previous post-lockdown jobs growth showed 280,000 jobs could be filled in the lead-up to the summer holiday season.
The latest National Skills Commission data also shows job advertisements on the internet have soared to a 13-year high with 250,900 positions up for grabs.
“The jobs are there and we are looking to get people into those jobs to support these businesses, because you cannot take the economic recovery for granted and my government will secure that economic recovery,” Mr Morrison said.
But unions say this is a hollow promise if these jobs follow current workforce trends with 60 per cent of post-pandemic jobs being insecure.
“Many of these Christmas jobs will not go to our unemployed, instead they will go to workers who are not getting enough hours in their current job to keep a roof over their heads,” ACTU president Michele O’Neil said.
Data on Wednesday showed wages growth in the September quarter returning to its pre-pandemic level of 2.2 per cent, but remained well below inflation at three per cent.
“Real wages are going backwards,” Labor’s industrial relations spokesman Tony Burke told Sky News.
He said people working in some industries might get a “bit of a sugar hit” over the summer because of a lack of labour supply, in particular with overseas students not arriving.
“But all that will happen will be some people will be paid a premium until overseas students arrive and the supply problem is fixed, and then their wages will go straight back down again,” he said.
Still, several surveys point to Australians going on a spending spree on the run-up to Christmas.
The Australian Retailers Association is forecasting pre-Christmas sales of $58.8 billion, an 11.3 per cent increase on pre-pandemic levels.
A survey of 1010 Australians commissioned by parcel delivery service CourierPlease found 41 per cent, the equivalent of 8.2 million people, intend to make a purchase during this month’s Black Friday sales.
Another poll by financial comparison website Canstar also found many intend to nab a bargain during Black Friday.
While it found 64 per cent of the 1026 people surveyed intend to lower their Christmas gift spend this year, 19 per cent, or 3.5 million people, plan to take advantage of low prices during Black Friday.
Canstar’s Steve Mickenbecker says many Australians are sitting on a stockpile of savings after lengthy lockdowns and are ready to open their wallets,
“Canstar’s research shows that millions of Australians plan to shop smart this year and use Black Friday as an opportunity to save on Christmas gifts,” he said.