ABS responds to COVID-19
We are committed to delivering timely and accurate information about the impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19) on Australian society and the economy.
In mid-March 2020, we introduced a range of COVID-19 related products as the pandemic escalated, including preliminary data to deliver more timely insights, such as retail trade, merchandise trade, mortality statistics and overseas travel and surveys such as Household Impacts of COVID-19, and Business Conditions and Sentiments (initially called Business Impacts of COVID-19).
We have continuously reviewed these products to ensure they meet Australia’s data needs. Following the latest review, some COVID-19 related products will cease from June 2021. For a list of these products please see Changes to ABS Statistical Work Program.
Data sources to inform official statistics and research in response to COVID-19
During COVID-19 we have investigated using administrative and transactions data from the public and private sector to inform official social and economic statistics, including:
- Bank transactions data – aggregated, de-identified transactions data from major banks to generate public value by informing official ABS estimates of business sales, household consumption and Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and assist in understanding the evolution of the Australian economy.
- Energy consumption data – to understand how electricity usage is changing for businesses and households at an area level, and to understand power as a consumption item. This project is now complete and research can be seen here: Using electricity data to understand COVID-19 impacts.
- Mobility data – samples of aggregated, de-identified data on mobility and location from a commercial provider and publicly available data, based on mobile device GPS, to assess the value of these types of data to inform short-term population movements. No data was sourced from the Australian Government's COVIDSafe app. This investigation is now complete and further information can be seen here: Methodological News, Mar 2021.
Immunisation data – integration of Australian Immunisation Register (AIR) data with the Multi-Agency Data Integration Project (MADIP) will inform the Department of Health’s co-ordination of COVID-19 Vaccine and Treatment Strategies, by enabling analysis of vaccine take-up by a range of socio-demographic cohorts. Information of the project can be seen here: Understanding socio-demographic cohorts in the COVID-19 Vaccines Strategy
We continue to explore datasets held by the private sector, especially transactional datasets, to provide closer to real-time insights to inform government responses to emerging service needs and policy challenges.
We are committed to upholding the privacy, confidentiality and security of the information it collects. The ABS is an independent statutory authority established by the Australian Bureau of Statistics Act 1975 and is well positioned in the Commonwealth to collect this information.
COVID-19 stories and case studies
- Story: One year of COVID-19 – Aussie jobs, business & the economy, 17 March 2021. A timeline of significant COVID-19 events and statistical and economic insights over the last year.
- Story: How Aussies reacted in a year of COVID-19, 17 March 2021. A personal look at the impact of COVID-19 on our health, wellbeing and lifestyle.
- Case study: Innovation in a time of crisis - The Australian Bureau of Statistics' response to COVID-19, 29 May 2020
- Interview: The race for real-time pandemic data - The Conversation, 4 June 2020
- New mortality statistics and other information to measure COVID-19 impacts, 27 May 2020
- ABS exploring new data sources to inform official statistics in response to COVID-19, 22 May 2020
- Speech: Measuring the Impacts of COVID-19 - Briefing to the Australian Business Economists
- Statistical work program changes in response to COVID-19, 22 April 2020
- New labour market information, 14 April 2020
- Further ABS information to measure coronavirus impacts, 31 March 2020
- Additional ABS products to help measure the economic impact of the coronavirus, 16 March 2020
Media releases, articles and statements
- How the Australian Bureau of Statistics became our secret weapon in the coronavirus pandemic, ABC News Online, 10 March 2021
- New high frequency ABS products help measure the economic and social impacts of COVID-19, 11 June 2020
- ABS thanks survey respondents, 11 May 2020
- ATO-ABS partnership delivers COVID-19 jobs statistics, 20 April 2020
- Measuring the labour market impacts of COVID-19, 15 April 2020
Protecting households, businesses and staff
The ABS is prioritising the health, safety and wellbeing of our staff, as well as households and businesses providing information to the ABS. We encourage participation online or by phone. More information is available for survey respondents.