The Australian recession nobody talks about

Earlier this week, I posted an article showing, among other things, that Australian households have experienced a seven year recession in real per capita household disposable income (HDI), which has fallen by 0.5% over the past seven years:

And that Australia’s real per capita HDI growth was the lowest among OECD nations over the five years to 2019:

Yesterday, The Australian’s Adam Creighton penned a superb article explaining how the Australian economy has become dangerously reliant on mass immigration, is badly underperforming other developed nations, and is experiencing a recession when measured in per capita terms:

Without migrants from Asia, Australia’s economy would slide into recession.

In defending last week’s poor economic growth figures, Scott Morrison pointed to Germany and Britain, whose economies shrank in the June quarter. Ours expanded 0.5 per cent and 1.4 per cent across the year, the slowest pace since 2009.

Yet their populations are growing at less than half the pace of ours. Per capita, economic output went backwards in Australia.

In Germany and Britain it went forwards. It’s hardly a comparison to brag about: strip out the extra people, and we’re doing worse than both…

In fact it’s practically impossible for Australia to ever meet the technical definition of a recession — two quarters of economic contraction — when it accepts about 240,000 people a year, on top of natural increase of 150,000.

The situation is actually worse than described by Adam Creighton.

In the aftermath of last week’s June quarter national accounts release, Treasurer Josh Frydenburg was quick to boast about the economy’s “remarkable resilience” and purported 28 years without experiencing a recession:

Yet this myopic view disregards entirely what is happening at the household level (noted above), nor that when adjusted for population, Australia’s GDP per capita growth has been slowing sharply and, in fact, went backwards in the 2018-19 financial year.

The next chart tracking Australia’s trend quarterly per capita GDP growth illustrates the situation:

Not only has trend growth slowed massively since the early-1990s ‘technical recession’, but Australia has in fact experienced several per capita recessions over its purported 28 years of uninterrupted growth.

Moreover, the past financial year has been brutal, with per capita GDP growth of 0%. -0.1%, 0% and 0% recorded over the past four quarters, giving the below annual growth chart:

As you can see, the Australian economy has just experienced its second annual fall in real per capita GDP, which follows the deeper falls experienced during the Global Financial Crisis.

To make matters worse, Australia’s real per capita GDP growth has underperformed all major economies and regions this decade, as illustrated below using OECD data:

The gap underperformance has also worsened materially over the Coalition’s term in government:

No matter which way you cut it, Australia’s per capita economy is sick. Household incomes are going backwards, and per capita GDP is in recession. It is only Australia’s extreme population growth that is keeping Australia from a ‘technical recession’. And this is coming at the expense of productivity, amenity, housing affordability, and wage growth.

Per Capita outcomes are the primary measurements that Governments, economists and the media should be talking about. But of course they wont, because it is much easier to import migrants and report headline GDP growth than actually earning it the hard way through productivity.

Unconventional Economist


  1. Not true.Plenty of people in the street talking about our recession.Just the media,political elite and RBA not talking about it.As I have said before not to sure how many of the commentators on here have a significant exposure to the feel on the street.Let me tell you it is not good

  2. @ matthew – maybe “plenty of people are talking” but they don’t seem to be actually saying much ….

    as long as Australians of all political stripes (including the non-voters) continue to let this obscenity unroll without protest,i.e. continue to behave as a population of sheeple, nothing will except to get worse …

    • David they are not protesting in the streets.In fact they don’t even understand the genesis.However they are cautious and increasingly so.There is a sense something is horribly wrong

      • I don’t know anyone who is doing better than last year. We are all experiencing lower incomes, higher prices for essentials, less space, worsening weather…
        Protesting in the streets? Only the greenies do that. We are not Hong Kongers or French

      • People are frightened of being called r. a. c. i s. t. 20 years ago Pauline Hanson was hounded into jail for standing up against the high immigration lobby. People learned. And let’s be honest, while conservatives and their ‘give me my wage slaves’ business base are complicit, it’s not conservatives who scream waaay – – cist every time someone criticises immigration. It is the authoritarian Left.

    • This fraud has been going on all over the place – pollies telling everyone things are good (see, the statistics say it is so) but the lived experience says otherwise. People scratching their heads telling themselves it must be a figment of their imagination and that things really are better than they think.

      Way, way too much trust in our pollies …

  3. My hairdresser asked me (unprompted) “why won’t the government talk about what’s wrong with the economy?”

    The supermarket manager (who loves Scomo) told me “at least he’s trying to fix the economy, at least he’s trying… it’s not working though”.

    People are noticing and talking.

  4. Jumping jack flash

    More debt will fix it. 7 trillion more debt by 2030 will give us the growth we need.

    Get on the trolley! Do your part and double your debt. The RBA and APRA will do theirs by slashing rates and lowering standards making Double Debt within reach for even the lowliest Uber driver.

  5. You have to live off your rents……average labour income per employed person in Australia $ 19,000[email protected]/mf/6150.0.55.003

    This is why rent is going to be taken straight out of welfare payments……we are a nation of petit landlords and Mr Morrison knows they all vote for him…….soon to be followed by debtors prisons as the banks realise everyone is going to go jingle mail in such numbers as they wont cope

    • reusachtigeMEMBER

      Well if you can’t pay off your loans of course you should pay for them in jail. A year per 100k outstanding. Hopefully that will encourage people to strive harder to make their payments on time.

  6. The best part? Everything they do to try and fix it right now is just going to continue to make matters worse.

    Import more Jimmies get lower wages.
    Lower teh rates people will save more.
    Push house prices up, people will be forced to dedicate more of their lower incomes to their mortgages and spend less in the economy.

    We exceeded the tipping point ages ago, but there is no political or public will for change. Lord help us on a serious matter like climate change…

    • You’re only half right, Gav. Everything they do will only make matters worse FOR YOU.

      FOR THEM – they’ll be just a comfortable as before. The Mosman mansions, etc, aren’t suddenly going to run into squalid squats, are they? The yacht is probably not going to suddenly spring a leak (unless insurance money is needed), eh?

    • Look at the fires
      And no water. Can’t put the Tenterfield fires out without water. Not sure if they can draw from the Clarence, lucky if so.
      Lord help us if there’s a fire up the Granite Belt.
      Upper basin forecast to go dry
      What then

      Meanwhile Littlebrain is a denier


      We’re about to move off the land onto town water, one thing is for sure. I am putting a 5000+ gal tank in, firefighting equipment, and keeping the firearm license.

      The next 10 years might get a little crazy.

      Still time to jog on over to Switzerland…

    • I’m 1 of them, Sydney is super expensive in terms of living and day to day expenses that there is hardly anything left over after paying your rent / mortgage and you cannot enjoy the things that are good about the city easily as a result.

      I was talking to a colleague about Tokyo and how living costs were lower and housing costs and therefore you can save a lot more money etc..then there is the amount of tax your wage attracts in Sydney.

      • But, but, but what about the 1000 dollars tax back they’re running ads about to placate the masses.
        All the while every service has eaten that away.
        These people are cruel indeed.

  7. I suspect that Its the unemployment numbers that show the issue.
    Germany with 83m people have their unemployment rate down to 3%
    The US with 327m have got it down to 3.7%
    Australia with 25m is 5.2% and rising.
    Canada is also piling in people with similar net migration figures and population. unemployment at 5.7%