The scale of coronavirus job losses in Newcastle is even worse than previously reported after the Australian Bureau of Statistics revised its labour force figures.
The updated data show Newcastle has shed 24,200 jobs since February, 9200 more than earlier reported, resulting in the city's first double-digit unemployment rate in 17 years.
The youth unemployment rate for Newcastle was 26.8 per cent in May and 22 per cent across the Hunter.
The ABS reported last month that 16,000 people in Newcastle had lost work from February to April and 10,000 in the rest of the Hunter.
But the bureau added 9200 to the Newcastle figure on Thursday, estimating 25,200 Novocastrians had lost work over those two months. It revised the overall Hunter region's job losses from 26,000 to 33,000.
Newcastle added 1000 jobs in May, defying a 227,000 fall across Australia, but the rest of the Hunter lost another 5000 positions, bringing the region's total job losses to 37,000 since the pandemic began.
Business NSW estimates 36,000 job losses in the Hunter, calculated using a baseline of average employment in the 12 months to February.
Hunter Business Chamber chief executive Bob Hawes said the "devastating" number of job losses pointed to a "long road ahead" to recover from the pandemic.
"I think the youth unemployment figures point to the impact on industries such as retail, hospitality, arts and entertainment and tourism, which traditionally employ high numbers of young people," he said.
"Notwithstanding youth unemployment is typically a volatile measure, the Newcastle figure is still significantly higher than anything we have seen in a long time."
Mr Hawes expected the picture to become even bleaker when JobKeeper subsidies ran out in September.
"The impact of JobKeeper subsidies, in addition to the number of people who have stopped actively looking for work because of the depressed job market, is likely to be keeping these figures artificially low," he said.
A Hunter Business Chamber analysis of Treasury postcode data issued on Wednesday shows nearly 18,500 businesses and not-for-profit organisations in the Hunter had JobKeeper applications processed in April.
The top postcodes for applications were Charlestown (1147), Maitland (1104), Newcastle (865), Cardiff (792), Belmont (758), Minmi (715), Merewether (668), East Maitland (629), Adamstown (628) and Cessnock (632).
"What this data suggests is that there is a strong case building for the government to maintain wage subsidies beyond September," Mr Hawes said.
"Businesses will take much longer than first anticipated to bounce back from the crisis and rebuild their workforces."
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