Insights into household income and saving by state and territory

Released
20/11/2020

Australia’s household income (measured as gross disposable income) rose 5.4% in 2019-20, with growth recorded in all states and territories due to continued growth in compensation of employees and social assistance benefits.

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated reduction in economic activity resulted in an increase in the number of unemployment benefit recipients across all states and territories.

The proportion of unemployment benefit recipients relative to residential population almost doubled for every state and territory. The NT recorded the largest proportion of unemployment benefit recipients relative to population of all states and territories, reaching 9.5%.  

NSW and Victoria recorded the largest rises in number of recipients relative to population, with relative proportions more than doubling in both states.

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Sources: DSS Demographic Data June 2020, ABS Estimated Resident Population

New South Wales

In 2019-20, New South Wales household income increased 4.9%, reflecting a strong rise in social assistance benefits and steady growth in compensation of employees. Social assistance benefits rose 14.2%, the highest growth since 2008-09 when various fiscal initiatives were introduced in response to the global financial crisis. The rise in social assistance benefits in 2019-20 reflects an increased number of benefit recipients plus additional COVID-19 related support payments including the coronavirus supplement (additional $550 payment) and the initial Economic support payment (one off $750 payment).

Other income payable fell 5.6%, driven by falls in interest on dwellings, reflecting cuts to mortgage rates over 2019-20.

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Victoria

Victoria household income rose 6.4%, above the 10-year average of 4.6%, driven by an increase in social assistance benefits and a fall in interest payable. The strong rise in social assistance benefits follows three consecutive falls, driven by increased number of benefit recipients and additional COVID-19 related payments. The fall in interest payable reflects successive interest rate cuts in 2019-20 with the fall driven by interest paid on dwellings. Compensation of employees continued to contribute to income growth, albeit at a slower rate with a rise of 3.9%, below the 10-year average of 5.0%.

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Queensland

Queensland household income increased 5.3% in 2019-20, driven by compensation of employees and social assistance benefits. Other income payable fell, due to decreased interest paid on dwellings reflecting reduced mortgage rates in 2019-20.

Income tax payable rose 0.5%, well below the 10-year average of 6.2%, due to the introduction of the low to middle income tax offset. Since 2010-11, growth in tax payable outpaced income growth as a result of Australia’s progressive tax system and bracket creep.

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South Australia

South Australia household income increased 5.1% driven by non-labour income (consisting of investment income, earnings from unincorporated businesses and social assistance benefits). Social assistance benefits was the largest contributor to growth, reflecting increased benefit recipients and additional support in response to COVID-19. Earnings from unincorporated businesses (measured as gross mixed income) rose 3.1% driven by increased activity in Professional, Scientific and Technical Services and Transport, Postal and Warehousing.

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Western Australia

Western Australia household income rose 4.9% following weak income growth in recent years and recorded the strongest rise since 2013-14. Social assistance benefits contributed to growth reflecting increased number of benefit recipients and additional COVID-19 related support payments.

Western Australia compensation of employees rose 3.9% in 2019-20, driven by Mining and Health Care and Social Assistance.

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Tasmania

Tasmania household income growth rose 7.0% in 2019-20, reflecting the continued growth in compensation of employees and additional income support from social assistance benefits. Compensation of employees rose 4.9%, above the 10-year average of 3.6%, driven by growth in Health Care and Social Assistance and Professional, Scientific and Technical Services.  Social assistance benefits rose 12.4%, reflecting a higher number of benefit recipients and additional support. Gross operating surplus from dwelling services contributed to income growth, with continued growth since 2014-2015 reflecting the increased number of dwellings and rent prices over this period.

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Northern Territory

Northern Territory household income increased 1.7%, driven by a 17.6% growth in social assistance reflecting increased number of recipients and additional COVID-19 related support programs. Income tax payable fell 2.9%, reflecting a continued fall in compensation of employees and the introduction of the low to middle income tax offset. Compensation of employees fell 0.2%, following a steep fall of 5.6% in 2018-19, these falls reflect reduced construction activity as large mining projects moved from investment to production phase.

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Australian Capital Territory

In 2019-20, Australian Capital Territory household income rose 6.2%, driven by compensation of employees and gross operating surplus from dwelling services. Compensation of employees rose 5.0%, reflecting continued growth in public sector wages and employment. Labour income in the ACT is influenced by the public sector, the subdued compensation of employees growth in 2013-14 was a result of commonwealth government wage freezes. The rise in gross operating surplus from dwelling services reflected increased dwelling stock and rental prices.

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Household saving by state

Australia’s household net saving rose $78.2 billion to $121.8 billion and recorded positive net saving in all states and territories, the first time since 2011-12.

New South Wales (NSW) household net saving rose $28.2b to $38.6b, recording the highest net saving of all states and territories. The rise in net saving reflects a modest growth in income coupled with a steep fall in household consumption. NSW recorded the steepest fall in household consumption of all states and territories reflecting reduced spending on discretionary services as COVID-19 restrictions led to reduced travel and recreation activity. 

Victoria recorded its first positive household net saving since 2011-12 with a rise of $22.3 billion to $8.6 billion. Like NSW, the rise in saving reflected a steep fall in household consumption which fell 1.3%, driven by reduced spending on discretionary services.

WA household net saving rose $7.9 billion to $24.0 billion, driven by growth in household income (as defined as gross disposable income) and a modest fall in household consumption.

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