Almost half of Australians over the age of 18 indicated they had been financially affected by COVID-19 in the period of mid-March to mid-April, as revealed by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
According to the second Household Impacts of COVID-19 Survey, 45% of households indicated their finances had been impacted in some way.
“One third of Australians (31%) reported that their household finances had worsened over this period, while one in seven (14%) reported an improvement,” said Michelle Marquardt, ABS program manager for household surveys.
“One in 13 Australians (7.5% ) said their household lacked the money to pay one or more bills on time, and one in ten (10%) had to draw on accumulated savings to support basic living expenses.”
Just over a quarter of Australians (28%) said they received the first one-off $750 support payment, which was announced as part of the government’s economic stimulus package. Those aged over 65 years were three times as likely to have already received the payment as younger Australians.
“Around half (53%) of persons who received the economic support payment added it to savings, with persons aged 65 years and over more likely to do so than persons aged 18 to 64 – 71% compared with 37%,” said Marquardt.
In addition to quantifying the financial toll of the virus, the survey also collected information about Australians’ emotional and mental well-being over the period.
“Compared to the 2017-18 National Health Survey, almost twice as many adults reported feelings associated with anxiety, such as nervousness or restlessness, at least some of the time over the last four weeks,” said Marquardt.
“Adults aged 18 to 64 years were nearly twice as likely as those aged 65 years and over to experience feelings related to anxiety at least some of the time.”
While fewer Australians have been able to see friends and family outside the home as compared to 2014, many used alternative ways to stay in touch while in lockdown during the first two weeks of April.