As Australia braces for the end of JobKeeper, new figures show the number of people getting the payment dropped below a million for the first time in February.

Preliminary data from the ATO shows 10,000 businesses, employing around 90,000 staff, left the scheme in February.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg says the end of JobKeeper does not equal the end of government support. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Gary Ramage
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg says the end of JobKeeper does not equal the end of government support. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Gary Ramage

But although more than 2.8 million workers and 680,000 businesses have left the scheme since its peak last year, there were still 980,000 whose pay packets were being subsidised in its final month.

The news comes days after Treasury officials revealed to the Senate they expect 150,000 people will lose their jobs after JobKeeper ends.

Victoria remained the state most dependent on JobKeeper in February, with 369,000 people getting the payment.

It was followed by NSW with 327,000 people.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the JobKeeper program had helped to keep businesses afloat and Australians in jobs at the height of the pandemic.

Treasury Secretary Steven Kennedy.
Treasury Secretary Steven Kennedy.

"Just because JobKeeper has come to an end does not mean the government's support has," he said.

"Our Economic Recovery Plan will continue to support the economy through targeted support measures as well as tax cuts, business incentives and a record investment in skills and training, and infrastructure."

Treasury Secretary Steven Kennedy told the Senate last week he did not think the end of JobKeeper would mean a massive increase in unemployment.

He said it was appropriate for the program to end as other support measures took effect, and to allow the economy to continue adjusting.

In Treasury's view "it distorts wage relativities, dampens incentives to work, hampers labour mobility and the reallocation of workers to more productive roles, and keeps businesses afloat that would not be viable without ongoing support."

But Labor's Amanda ­Rishworth said "now is absolutely not the right time" to end JobKeeper.

Originally published as Less than a million people still on JobKeeper



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