Australia’s living standards wipeout


Wednesday’s national accounts release from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) was an unmitigated disaster for Australians and proved that material living standards have collapsed under the Albanese government.

Australia’s real GDP in per capita terms fell for a third consecutive quarter, entrenching the “per capita recession”:

Quarterly real per capita GDP

Over the year to September, real GDP per capita fell by 0.3%:

Annual Real GDP per capita

The decline in per capita GDP has been driven by household consumption, which fell by 1.9% in per capita terms in the year to September:


This collapse in household consumption has occurred despite the household savings rate falling to just 1.1%, which was the lowest level since December 2007, before the Global Financial Crisis hit:

Household savings rate

The decline in savings continued to support household spending and there is a high chance that this measure turns negative next year.


Finally, household disposable income per capita has collapsed to “where we were 13 years ago (or 15 years ago including GFC stimulus payments)”, according to Ben Phillips from ANU:

Household income per capita

Source: Ben Phillips (ANU)

The next chart from CBA shows how household finances have been chewed-up by inflation, taxes and interest payments, resulting in record 5.6% annual decline:


This means that material living standards are back to where they were under the Rudd/Gillard Governments, and are obviously far worse when broader livability indicators are included (e.g. traffic congestions, housing affordability and quality, inequality, homelessness, etc).

No wonder the Albanese government is suffering a loss of voter support.

About the author
Leith van Onselen is Chief Economist at the MB Fund and MB Super. He is also a co-founder of MacroBusiness. Leith has previously worked at the Australian Treasury, Victorian Treasury and Goldman Sachs.