New ABS unemployment figures indicate hundreds of people returned to work in Ballarat in June, dropping the unemployment rate slightly.
Federation University Associate Professor in Economics Dr Alex Millmow said it was 'good news' the data showed some job rebound in June, however the unemployment rate in Ballarat was likely to be higher than reported.
"A lot of people are on JobKeeper. While they may not be working, they don't show up in the unemployment statistics and that will be continued right on until March next year," he said.
"On the surface the data shows there was some job rebound. But one is somewhat ominous about whether that would continue."
The Australian Bureau of Statistics released its monthly labour force data on Thursday, showing the unemployment rate in Ballarat dropped from 7 per cent in May to 6.1 per cent in June.
No data is provided on what sectors experienced the boost in employment, but Commerce Ballarat chief executive Jodie Gillett suggested the manufacturing and construction sectors were relatively stable industries.
The Courier spoke to JK Personnel managing director Tim Walshe earlier this week, who said there were dozens of roles available in Ballarat in manufacturing and skilled positions including welding and spray painting.
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Director of recruitment agency Inspire HQ Ange Connor said most businesses halted recruitment activity when COVID-19 hit due to uncertainty, but had resumed employment in the past months.
"We have seen a big increase in activity throughout June," she said.
"Positions came off hold and moved head and that probably aligns with the unemployment figures.
"When we were doing quite well case wise there was confidence in business."
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Ms Connor said it was 'fantastic news' that Ballarat had bucked the trend, but it would be interesting to see what happens in the coming weeks with a rise in COVID-19 cases.
Ms Gillett said the extension of JobKeeper would create confidence in business, but many sectors remained under intense pressure.
"Businesses need to have some sense of where they might be in a week or two weeks or a month in order to create any employment," she said.
"With COVID, a lot of that confidence has been eroded, but seeing JobKeeper extended will help with that a little bit.
"Obviously times are incredibly tough. Our businesses are very resilient and they are finding it really hard to the best they can and keep their people employed."
The ABS data shows 5300 people were unemployed in Ballarat in June, down from 5800 in May.
This is compared to 2700 people recorded as unemployed in February before coronavirus hit.
A range of complex factors can influence the unemployment figure.
Social distancing and trading restrictions were progressively eased in mid-May. Limited mutual obligation requirements were partially resumed for JobSeeker on June 9.
The federal government's JobMaker package was announced on June 25 and free childcare ended July 12.
ABS warns regional estimates on unemployment figures has a larger sampling error compared to the national and state estimates due to a smaller sample size.
COVID-19: A timeline of economic damage in Ballarat
This is the first sign of the troubles that await, as Sara Quon, the CEO of Sovereign Hill makes a candid statement about the impact the ban on incoming Chinese tourists is having on Ballarat's main attraction.
February 25: Coronavirus toll starts to rise in Victoria
The virus suddenly begins to seem a little closer to home, with cases rising to seven in the state. But reports of the lockdown in China and the impact on Italy still seem like distant troubles.
This for many was a defining moment in the way COVID-19 was seen in the country, with an elderly Perth man becoming the first person in Australia to die from the virus. At this point supermarket workers begin to see more panic buying and more empty shelves as Australian supply chains are put under unprecedented pressure.
The Victorian premier puts the state on an emergency footing, suggesting that shops and schools will inevitably close and people will be asked to do things they have never been asked to do before.
Taking a decision in front of many other local government authorities, the City of Ballarat announces a swift shutdown of many of its buildings, from the town hall to the Aquatic Centre.
March 21: Sovereign Hill closes its gates
Seen by many as a "tipping point" in the economic crisis gripping the city, the closure of Sovereign Hill is a devastating announcement for the tourism industry, the city - and the many people who work there.
March 25: Council casual staff go
As many as 200 casual staff working at the City of Ballarat will be paid for two weeks then let go.
March 27: Myer closes
Another iconic closure in the city, the Sturt Street store is a major retail landmark.
A bitter irony as new figures show just how well Ballarat was faring as a tourist destination before COVID-19 struck.
The City of Ballarat is vying for federal funding for major road-building projects - including stage two of the Link Road - to help kickstart a local economy under huge strain due to COVID-19.
Help for some of Ballarat's biggest tourist attractions is on the way after the federal government announced funding to assist zoos and aquariums across the country.
Hospitality sector calls for JobKeeper eligibility review to help businesses recover.
Victoria edges closer towards a gradual exit from coronavirus lockdown, and attention turns to exactly how Ballarat will begin to reopen.
June 1: Restrictions eased
More facilities and businesses will be allowed to reopen from Monday, June 1, as restrictions to protect people from the coronavirus continue to ease. Up to 20 people at a time can gather at a private household, and in public, indoors and outdoors.
June 21: Restrictions reimposed
In another devastating move for the city's hospitality industry, restrictions are tighter as community transmission of COVID-19 in the state begins to spike in a concerning way.
Restaurants, pubs, auction halls, community halls, libraries, museums and places of worship that had been set to welcome up to 50 patrons now have to stay at a maximum of 20 people until July 12.
July 7: Lockdown in Melbourne
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