New figures suggest the impact of virus lockdowns is being felt across the labour market, even in states that are not under restrictions.
But against this gloomy backdrop, exporters continue to enjoy more positive conditions, which have helped to lift the monthly trade surplus above $10 billion for the first time.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics said payroll jobs fell by a further 2.4 per cent in the fortnight to July 17, following a 0.2 per cent decline in the previous two weeks.
The payroll jobs report is a guide to the full labour force report for July, which is due later this month.
RBC Capital Markets chief economist Su-Lin Ong said the impact of these lockdowns is very visible in the data.
"More worrying is the breadth of weakness in the data," she said.
ABS head of labour statistics Bjorn Jarvis said every state and territory saw a fall in payroll jobs across the fortnight, but the falls were much larger in NSW, down 4.4 per cent, and neighbouring ACT, down 2.4 per cent.
The latest data coincided with school holidays in every state and territory, the second and third weeks of the Greater Sydney lockdown, increased restrictions in other parts of NSW and the first two days of lockdown in Victoria.
NSW usually accounts for around a third of total payroll jobs and Victoria around a quarter.
"As a result, lockdowns in these two states contributed to a strong fall in payroll jobs nationally," Mr Jarvis said.
Earlier this week, Reserve Bank of Australia governor Philip Lowe warned the jobless rate would rise with the economy set to contract in the September quarter due to the spate of lockdowns across the country.
Dr Lowe and his leadership team will be quizzed by the House of Representatives economics committee on Friday.
"The current outbreaks and lockdowns are hitting Australian households and businesses hard and threatening Australia's economic recovery," committee chair and Liberal MP Tim Wilson said.
"The committee is interested in the RBA's views on how these outbreaks will impact Australia's economic recovery."
Many economists agree with Dr Lowe that the economy is heading into a renewed downturn.
"Our economy is really bleeding at the moment," Labor's finance spokeswoman Katy Gallagher told Sky News.
"We know from Treasury's modelling that it's in the billions of dollars that these lockdowns are costing the economy and more importantly jobs and people's livelihoods."
Meanwhile, the ABS said the trade surplus for goods and services rose to $10.5 billion in June, up from a revised surplus of $9.3 billion in May.
The previous record was $9.9 billion in January.
Exports rose four per cent in June to $43.3 billion, compared with imports which rose one per cent to $32.8 billion.
Among these, exports to China rose by 8.2 per cent in the month to a record $19.1 billion.
"Australia's iron ore income windfall continues thanks to insatiable Chinese demand," Commonwealth Securities senior economist Ryan Felsman said.
"Income from the steel-making ingredient is boosting Australia's economy by around $3 billion per week."
Australian Associated Press
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