Australians growing more confident, but also more financially stressed

Melbourne Institute’s latest ‘Taking the Pulse of the Nation’ survey, which shows that Australians are growing more confident of an economic recovery, although financial stress is rising:

Although the majority of Australians remain pessimistic about the state of the economy, expectations are shifting towards a return to a “new normal” sooner rather than later. In wave 10, the proportion of Australians expecting the effect of the coronavirus pandemic to affect economic activity for longer than 12 months fell from 55% to 48% while the proportion expecting the duration of impact to be less than 12 months increased from 41% to 49%. Satisfaction with government policies remained roughly unchanged…

A closer look at financial stress across various age groups showed that the working age groups 35-44 and 45-54 years were particularly concerned, with the proportions reporting difficulties paying for essential goods and services increasing by 18 and 14 percentage points respectively. A probable proximate cause could be the recognition that work may be at less than full capacity for a while and that employers and employees need to adjust to post-subsidy conditions, following official reiterations that the JobKeeper, boost to JobSeeker and childcare support schemes are only temporary measures.

Growing financial concerns are understandable given both JobKeeper and JobSeeker will be unwound from late September.

Melbourne Institute’s latest monthly survey of workers, released last week, also showed that wages shrunk for the first time since the early 2000s, with the series also hitting a record low:

There’s more household pain on the horizon.

Leith van Onselen
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