Under-20s are seeing a JobKeeper-led boom in their income, new data suggests.
While jobs have shrunk drastically since the shutdown, especially in industries which employ large numbers of casuals and young people, such as retail and hospitality, incomes are a different story.
The impact is especially stark in Canberra, where jobs for teens fell 19 per cent in the seven weeks from March 14 to May 2 - the biggest fall in the country. But wages jumped 25 per cent in the age group.
The worst hit industries in Canberra are accommodation, food, arts and recreation, including gyms, with jobs down 27 per cent. The arts and recreation sectors were hit harder in Canberra than elsewhere.
Other industries also felt the impact. Professional and scientific jobs in Canberra are down 11 per cent, and even government jobs are down 2 per cent, despite the huge recruitment into Services Australia to process unemployment claims.
The government's JobKeeper program pays a flat $1500 a fortnight to workers in businesses hit by the coronavirus, no matter how many hours they work, or whether they work at all. Some are stood down through lack of work but still get the payment.
The result is that for people, including school and university students who might have worked one or two casual shifts a week or even fewer, their income has suddenly blossomed.
The impact shows up in Australian Bureau of Statistics figures released on Tuesday.
Across the country, job numbers shrank 15 per cent for under 20s in the seven weeks to May 2, and 11 per cent for people aged 20-29. People over 70 were also hard hit, with jobs shrinking 11 per cent.
But people aged under 20 saw a 17 per cent increased in total wages. They were the only group to see an increase in wages. Overall, job numbers were down 7.3 per cent and wages down 5.4 per cent.
The impact of JobKeeper is clear in the food and accommodation sector, with jobs down 27 per cent over seven weeks from March 14, but wages down 12 per cent. And in the fortnight from April 25, as JobKeeper kicked in for many people, job numbers were up 5 per cent and wages up 6 per cent.
Similarly, in the arts and recreation sector, including gyms, jobs were down 19 per cent since March 14. In that sector, wages were up 5 per cent over the seven weeks, and up 10 per cent over the two weeks from April 25.
The JobKeeper scheme was open not only to adults but to all 16 and 17-year-olds in the first six weeks, including those who worked just a few hours for pocket money. But the government changed the rules, so from May 11, 16 and 17-year-olds are only eligible if they live independently. For some, that meant they received $4500 - six weeks of the payment - before it was cut off.
Brendan Coates, from the Grattan Institute, said while young people would wear the cost of paying back the huge government spend on JobKeeper, they were also the beneficiaries.
"JobKeeper is imperfect. It certainly stopped us having something like the great depression, but some people are doing very well out of JobKeeper and some are missing out entirely," he said.
"That was inevitable given the speed at which the payment was designed, but if they are worried about the long-term budgetary cost maybe we should tweak the payment and make it less generous at the bottom in order to sustain it for those that really need it beyond September."
But he cautioned against dismantling the scheme. The government was pumping money into the economy at a rate equal to about 25 per cent of gross domestic product and suddenly cutting the support at the end of October was a recipe for a second downturn.
"We shouldn't lose sight of the forest for the trees. So while there are a bunch of anomalies in the scheme, we should try to fix them rather than roll the whole scheme back because if we roll it back prematurely it will put the economy into a hole."
Last week, the bureau released data showing 600,000 jobs disappeared in a month, but more than a third of those jobs were held by people aged 15-24.
- For information on COVID-19, please go to the federal Health Department's website.
- You can also call the Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080
- If you have serious symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, call Triple Zero (000)
Our COVID-19 news articles relating to public health and safety are free for anyone to access. However, we depend on subscription revenue to support our journalism. If you are able, please subscribe here. If you are already a subscriber, thank you for your support. If you're looking to stay up to date on COVID-19, you can also sign up for our twice-daily digest here.