Hundreds more looking for work in Murray Bridge since COVID-19 hit

The unemployment rate has risen to 9.5 per cent in the district, according to the latest federal government figures.

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Almost 180 extra people have been put out of work in Murray Bridge since COVID-19 hit, according to the latest federal government figures.

Unemployment in the district has spiked by at least two per cent, officially speaking, and now sits at 9.5 per cent.

But the real employment problem may be bigger still, according to the Department of Education, Skills and Employment.

Another 170 people in the Murray Bridge district gave up looking for work during the first three months of 2020.

If those people had applied for government benefits instead, the real unemployment rate would be closer to 10.9%.

The same pattern held true in surrounding areas, such as at Mannum and Strathalbyn, in the Coorong and the Mallee: more people found themselves out of a job, but more also stopped looking for work.

It is worth bearing in mind, too, that the figures covered a period which ended on March 31.

That was the day Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the Jobkeeper payment, and only a week after South Australia's borders were closed – or, in 2020 terms, forever ago.

The next regional unemployment figures, covering the three months to the end of June, are due to be released in October.

Reduction in Jobkeeper rate may affect thousands

Meanwhile, one in three businesses in Murray Bridge is relying on the Jobkeeper payment, according to the latest federal government figures.

As many as 425 businesses were claiming Jobkeeper for their employees in the postcodes for Murray Bridge, Monarto and Wellington in May, according to the Treasury data.

To put that in context, there were just over 1300 businesses in the Murray Bridge district last year, according to ID Consulting – and each one employed an average of eight people.

That would put the total number of local employees receiving Jobkeeper at about 3500.

The payment of $1500 per fortnight will drop on September 28 to $1200 for employees working an average of 20 or more hours per week, and $750 for those working fewer hours.

Businesses will also have to prove that their income has continued to be affected by COVID-19 during the second and third quarters of this year.

Photo: Jonathan Rados/Unsplash.