An estimated 66,500 Hunter workers are poised to lose $100 million a fortnight in JobKeeper payments when the federal government's coronavirus subsidies expire at the end of September.
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese's office shared the estimates with the Newcastle Herald on Thursday to illustrate the height of the so-called fiscal cliff the Hunter is facing in less than three months.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates that 37,000 workers have lost employment in the Hunter since the pandemic began.
Not all 66,500 employees now on JobKeeper will join their ranks when the payments run out, but employers will be under significant financial pressure to keep staff on the books if their revenue stays down.
Mr Albanese is expected to continue pushing the Morrison government to extend JobKeeper payments at a media conference in Bankstown on Friday morning.
"Australia is in a deep and painful recession with devastating outcomes for families," he told the Newcastle Herald on Thursday.
"Australians need to know now what Scott Morrison intends to do when JobKeeper ends in two months."
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Treasury estimates show 17,525 Hunter businesses applied for JobKeeper in April, including 5425 in the Newcastle federal electorate, 4150 in Shortland, 3720 in Hunter and 4230 in Paterson.
Based on the national average of the number of employees in each business receiving JobKeeper, 66,500 Hunter workers could lose their $1500-a-fortnight subsidy when the scheme ends.
Newcastle's jobless rate hit 10 per cent in May for the first time in 17 years. The ABS reported the unemployment rate for those aged 15 to 24 as 26.8 per cent.
Mr Morrison said on Wednesday that JobKeeper payments would continue in some form, but he is not due to issue details of phase two until July 23.
"There'll be a further phase of support that goes beyond September," he said.
"Where there is the need, then there will continue to be support. And so this is about tailoring a national program to provide support where the support is needed.
"The needs are continuing and we understand that. We have understood that for some time, and we have been preparing our next phase on the basis of that understanding."
The Prime Minister is under pressure to extend the payments in outbreak-hit Victoria and in some industries, including aviation.
Financial experts have warned of a wave of home mortgage defaults and business insolvencies if there is no soft landing for employers and those pushed out of work.
Shadow Treasurer Jim Chalmers said on Thursday that Mr Morrison could not "just turn off the tap" while businesses were struggling with the fallout of COVID-19 restrictions.
The government is also facing calls to continue JobSeeker unemployment benefits, which doubled the former Newstart allowance from $275 to $550 a week for six months from April.
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