This paper estimates the employment effects of the first six months of the JobKeeper program over the following year, which includes the height of the COVID‑19 recession in Australia and subsequent rapid recovery.
The program design allows us to use a fuzzy regression discontinuity design – comparing workers just either side of start date thresholds for eligibility – to credibly identify the effects of the program on employment.
At the height of the recession, JobKeeper lifted the probability of employment for casual workers by around 40 percentage points, an effect that fell away to zero as health restrictions were lifted and aggregate employment rebounded.
Smaller but more enduring effects are found for newly recruited permanent workers, suggesting the program may have played a more important role in ameliorating labour market scarring for these workers in the medium term.
Finally, we rule out large within-firm ‘spillover’ effects that may have supported or suppressed the employment of ineligible workers, as firm‑level estimates of the effect of JobKeeper on employment closely mirror individual‑level estimates.
Our findings suggest that at its height in early 2020 JobKeeper directly preserved between 300,000 to 700,000 jobs.