We touched base in March and again in July to see how Australians view their current standard of living and their financial circumstances. So, what impact has the COVID-19 crisis had on Australians’ standard of living and their financial circumstances?
Australians’ satisfaction with their standard of living remains strong in July with 71% reporting to be satisfied and 13% reporting to be dissatisfied, giving a net satisfaction rate of 58%. This is up marginally from 54% in March. Satisfaction is greatest among Australians aged 75+, with a net satisfaction rate of 83%, up from 70% in March. While Australians aged 40-55, with a net satisfaction rate of 44%, reported the lowest satisfaction levels, and were the only group to report a lower net satisfaction rate in July, with their satisfaction rate softening compared to March (48%).
There have been several likely contributors to the Australians’ maintenance of their satisfaction with their standard of living. We know from our regular tracking of citizens perceptions, attitudes and behaviours during the coronavirus pandemic that many Australians reported some costs had increased (eg: food, groceries and household supplies; and utility bills) while some reported others had decreased (eg: personal care and beauty products, transportation, such as using public transport and fuel costs, and apparel). With social distancing being encouraged and various lockdowns being enforced across the country, borders being closed, and many Australians continuing to work from home, spending patterns have changed with perhaps the net effect on being relatively neutral.
Adding to this, there has been a raft of government stimulus injected into the economy. An estimated 3.5 million Australians have been on JobKeeper, with around one in four of those earning an average of $550 more a fortnight than they were before the COVID-19 crisis. JobSeeker has been temporarily increased by $550 a fortnight, and two $750 lump sum payments have been made to those who were in receipt of an eligible payment, including JobSeeker, or an eligible concession card. Additionally, early access to Superannuation has seen Australians able to access up to $20,000 from their super accounts with over $30 billion already being accessed. State governments have also been contributing to the stimulus.
Additionally, free Childcare was introduced from 6th April to 12th July while mortgage, credit card and personal loan rates have all been reduced, and a 6-month grace period offered to eligible customers, further reducing household expenditure for millions of Australians.
Despite satisfaction with our standard of living being relatively steady we do see a marginal increase in the proportion of Australians who are reporting that they are consistently late in meeting financial obligations. On average, across all financial commitments, 20% of Australians surveyed in July claimed they are consistently late making payments, up from 17% in March. This rise in being late meeting financial obligations is coming from Gen Z and the Millenials (those aged 18-39), with 30% of this group reporting consistently being late on payments in July, up from 23% in March. All other age groups have remained steady.
Looking ahead, while the outlook for the next 12 months is still showing an 11% net negativity, with 34% of Australians believing their own personal financial circumstances will get worse over the next 12 months, compared to 23% who believe it will get better, this is a big improvement on what we saw in March, where a negative outlook outweighed a positive one by 28%.
Interestingly, while Australians aged 18-39 saw the biggest increase in being late meeting their financial obligations, they are also the most optimistic, when looking ahead. 38% of Australian in this age group believe the next 12 months will see their personal financial position get better, compared to 28% who see it getting worse. On the other hand, Boomers (those aged 56-74) were the least optimistic, with only 7% believing the next 12 months will see their personal financial position get better, compared to 41% who think it will get worse. However, with a net negativity 34%, this was still an improvement for this group compared to March, where net negativity was 50%.
- These are findings from an online survey conducted over two waves. Fieldwork for wave one was between 18th - 27th March and wave two was between 15th – 19th July.
- The sample each wave consists of 1,009 individuals in Australia aged 18+.
- The data is weighted to ensure sample composition best reflects the demographic profile of the Australian adult population according to 2016 census data.
- Sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error. The precision of the online surveys conducted is measured using a Bayesian Credibility Interval. Here, the poll has a credibility interval of +/-3.5 percentage points. For more information on the Ipsos use of credibility intervals, please go to: www.ipsos.com/sites/default/files/2017-03/IpsosPA_CredibilityIntervals.pdf
- Where results do not sum to 100, this may be due to computer rounding, multiple responses or the exclusion of don't knows or not stated responses.
- This study did not have any external sponsors or partners. It was initiated and run by Ipsos, because we are curious about the world we live in and how citizens around the globe think and feel about their world.