JobKeeper data reveals CBD challenge

New JobKeeper data from the Commonwealth Treasury has revealed that businesses within Melbourne and Sydney’s CBDs are experiencing a slower recovery than the rest of the economy.

Analysis of JobKeeper postcode data by the Property Council has found that businesses located within Australia’s two biggest CBDs have had a slower decline in the support payments than businesses based elsewhere across the nation.

Property Council Chief Executive, Ken Morrison, says that the trend demonstrates the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 response on Australia’s city centres.

“CBD businesses, particularly in Melbourne and Sydney, have borne the brunt of COVID-19 lockdowns and are clearly having more trouble weaning off JobKeeper payments,” Mr Morrison said.

“While the rest of the country had seen a 49% decline in JobKeeper payments by the end of December, Melbourne’s CBD only had a 30% fall.”“As JobKeeper payments cease at the end of this month, reactivating our CBDs has to be a key element of any economic recovery strategy.”

“The most important thing that can be done to help these businesses is for CBD workers to return to their offices – that’s a responsibility for corporate Australia and governments.

“More office workers back in the CBDs is a lifeblood for thousands of people who work in the cafes, restaurants, shops and bars in our CBDs.

“Lively city centres are not only important for the thousands of CBD businesses who rely on foot traffic, but also for millions of jobs and hundreds of billions of dollars in broader economic activity generated in our CBDs.”

The Property Council’s CBD occupancy survey results for February (2021) revealed a deceleration in the rate of workers returning to their offices. In the final week of February, Melbourne’s CBD occupancy was recorded at only 24%. Office buildings in Sydney’s CBD were only 48% occupied.

The Property Council is working with State and local governments, business, and building owners and managers on initiatives aimed at boosting activity in CBDs.

“Our CBDs generate fifteen per cent of all Australian jobs and will be central to the speed of Australia’s ongoing economic recovery,” Mr Morrison said.

“As COVID-related stimulus and support measures are wound down, there is an economic imperative for all stakeholders to instigate initiatives that will enliven the hearts of our cities as quickly as possible,” Mr Morrison said.

Mr Morrison said that building owners and managers have been working tirelessly to ensure workplaces are COVID-safe to support tenant businesses and their employees in returning to full productivity.

Source: Property Council of Australia

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