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Report reveals households are at record levels of financial comfort despite pandemic

The 20th edition of ME’s Household Financial Comfort Report has revealed that, in June 2021, Australian households experienced record-high levels of financial comfort, despite the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to cause disruptions to lives and businesses nationwide.

According to the report, which measures how comfortable people feel in their financial situations, household financial comfort climbed three per cent from pre-pandemic days to an index of 6.04 out of 10 – this was the highest score in the eight years ME has issued the report.

ME’s Consulting Economist, Jeff Oughton, said: “Despite the phasing out of most government COVID-19 financial assistance during the first half of the year, several factors have bolstered households’ sense of wealth and comfort with their finances”.

“These include rising investments such as the property market, slightly higher average incomes in a rebounding job market and more conservative spending and savings behaviour. For most households, their comfort has even bounced significantly higher than pre-pandemic levels.”

Cash savings are also up overall

The number of Australian households saving has also increased – up by nine per cent from December 2019 (pre-COVID) to 58% of households. The average amount saved in June 2021 was $960, which was another record for the Household Financial Comfort Report.

Despite the overall growth, an alarming 21% of Australian households have less than $1,000 in cash savings tucked away. Nearly a quarter (24%) would only be able to maintain their lifestyle for one month if they lost their income.

Oughton states that “Despite more households saving and an overall greater comfort with cash savings, there’s still a significant proportion of Australians that remain highly vulnerable to a loss of income.”

“With pandemic lockdowns continuing to occur across Australia, households with low cash savings are at significant risk, especially in instances of extended strict lockdowns like we’re currently seeing in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria.”

Not everyone is faring so well

Despite the positive news, many Australians are still struggling to get by. Single parents with government assistance experienced a huge 13% drop in financial comfort over the last six months; with their index score is sitting at 3.06 out of 10.

Self-employed workers were the only workforce category to see a decrease in their financial comfort – this was a six per cent fall over the previous six months to a rating of 5.83 out of 10. Casual and unemployed workers’ scores remained relatively low (5.54 and 5.32 respectively) compared to pre-pandemic times.

“Employment arrangements and job security remain of critical importance to the overall financial comfort of Australian households and longer-term economic recovery,” Oughton said.

“In fact, labour market conditions are a key reason that overall financial comfort has increased over the past six months, but paradoxically they’re also one of the leading drivers among households who said their financial situation has worsened.”

But good news remains for some demographics

Young singles and couples with no children and retirees are among the demographics who experienced the highest financial comfort levels in June 2021, increasing by 15% and 12%, respectively.

Demographic Pre-COVID index score (Dec 2019) Current index score (June 2021)
Retirees 6.12 6.83
Young singles/couples with no children 5.68 6.52
Couples with young children 5.75 6.07
Couples with older children 5.65 5.93
Empty nesters 5.57 5.83
Middle-aged singles/couples with no children 5.25 5.70
Single parents 4.45 5.07
Source: ME’s Household Financial Comfort Report, 2021

 

In terms of age groups, older adults (60+) scored the highest index of household financial comfort in June 2021, at 6.59 out of 10.2 Not far behind, however, were young adults (18-29) with 6.38 out of 10.

Age group Pre-COVID index score (Dec 2019) Current index score (June 2021)
60+ 5.94 6.59
18-29 5.91 6.38
30-39 5.52 6.03
40-49 5.43 5.57
50-59 5.18 5.51
Source: ME’s Household Financial Comfort Report, 2021

 

Source: https://www.comparethemarket.com.au/news/report-reveals-households-are-at-record-levels-of-financial-comfort-despite-pandemic/

By | 2021-08-25T12:09:38+00:00 August 25th, 2021|News|