Will it be a cliff or a steady slope?
That is the question on the minds of workers, business owners, economists and politicians as JobKeeper comes to an end.
The wage subsidy was introduced on March 30 last year in a bid to stem a massive boost to the dole queue at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
As Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told reporters on Sunday, the early months of 2020 had been a time when "Australia was staring into an economic abyss".
"Treasury feared unemployment reaching as high as 15 per cent, that's more than two million of our fellow Australians would have been unemployed," he said in Melbourne.
As the pandemic hit and the first recession since the 1990s loomed, Australians witnessed extraordinary images of tens of thousands of people lining up outside Centrelink - many for the first time in their lives.
The Reserve Bank said the wage subsidy had saved more than 700,000 jobs.
With the recession at an end, the number of people on the dole dropped from 1,319,268 at the start of 2021 to 1,166,611 a week ago.
The unemployment rate sits at 5.8 per cent.
It is expected to rise once JobKeeper ends but it is unclear how many people will shift from it to the dole, now known as JobSeeker, which is also scheduled to be less generous later in the week as the coronavirus supplement ends.
Official estimates put the employment losses at between 100,000 and 150,000.
ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie believes Australia is entering "dangerous territory" and doesn't agree with the government's alternative support measures like half-price airfares.
"We need to target our dollars to people who need the support, not people who ... might be wanting to go on a holiday," she told ABC TV.
The government has always intended JobKeeper would be temporary emergency assistance.
Over the period, 2.7 million people and 680,000 businesses have transited off JobKeeper.
"JobKeeper is coming to an end today having met is objectives of saving lives and saving livelihoods. It's been a remarkable program," Mr Frydenberg said.
Westpac's Justin Smirk says one figure he is closely watching is the jump in those working zero hours for economic reasons.
"At 106,700 in February compared to a monthly average of 55,100 through 2019, we see any number above 60,000 as an indication of potential job losses as JobKeeper scheme expires," he said.
"At this stage we see the ending of JobKeeper generating a minor stalling of employment with only a very modest rise in unemployment."
Some businesses are at risk of defaulting on payments or even folding as they adjust to the end of JobKeeper.
CreditorWatch chief economist Harley Dale says bankruptcies and insolvencies won't "fall off a cliff" as first anticipated because the number of businesses on JobKeeper has dived as the economy recovered.
"At the JobKeeper peak in the second and third quarters of last year, around one million businesses were receiving the payment, but this number had halved by the fourth quarter."
He says 8000 businesses will be insolvent by the end of the second quarter of this year.
Labor leader Anthony Albanese says while JobKeeper must come to an end at some point, it is "unwise" to withdraw support from industries and businesses still impacted by the pandemic.
"If the government wasn't paying literally tens of millions of dollars, to businesses that have increased profits and don't need support, then there would be more money available for those businesses and those workers who do need support," he told reporters on Sunday.