Stay-at-home orders and other pandemic measures have had a predictable impact on the Hunter labour market, cutting the number of people in work by 11,000 over two months.
Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates published on Thursday show the number of Hunter people in work fell from 331,000 in July to 326,000 in August and 320,000 in September.
The region entered lockdown on August 5.
The number of employed people in the Hunter in September was 20,000 fewer than in September 2019, six months before the COVID-19 pandemic began.
The Hunter unemployment rate is 4 per cent, though this seemingly healthy figure is due largely to a steep drop in the number of people actively looking for work.
The workforce participation rate, a measure of the number of people either in work or looking for it, fell two percentage points to 62.7 per cent in Newcastle and Lake Macquarie in September and 59.6 per cent in the rest of the Hunter.
The NSW participation rate was down slightly to 61.8 per cent in September and the unemployment rate fell two points to 4.6 per cent.
Premier Dominic Perrottet said on Thursday that every family with school-age children would receive $250 in vouchers next year as an economic stimulus and a "thank you" for home schooling them.
"Now as life returns to normal we want to encourage people to get out and boost economic activity," Mr Perrottet said.
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