International and state economies since the start of the pandemic

Released
1/09/2021

International comparisons

The economic impact of COVID-19 continued to diverge across countries over the June quarter 2021, a year and a half since the pandemic began. Many OECD economies recorded strong growth over the quarter, but their GDP remained below pre-pandemic levels.

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a. Data from https://data.oecd.org/gdp/quarterly-gdp.htm, 25 August 2021, in seasonally adjusted volume measures.

Australian state economies and mobility

In Australia, the June quarter 2021 was marked by several short lockdowns across Queensland, Western Australia, Victoria, and the Northern Territory, and by the beginning of more stringent containment measures in the Greater Sydney area in the last week of June.

Google mobility data tracks how visits and length of stay at various locations have changed relative to pre-pandemic mobility. Figure 2 shows the changes in mobility to retail and recreation locations as the stringency of state containment measures changed over the June quarter.

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a. Mobility data shown as weekly averages. Data from: Google LLC "Google COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports". https://www.google.com/covid19/mobility/ Accessed: 28/07/2021.

As mobility is restricted due to more stringent containment measures, the amount of time people spend at home increases. Figure 3 shows how retail and recreation mobility and time spent at residential places changed over the June quarter when compared to pre-pandemic mobility. There is generally an inverse relationship between time spent at home and retail and recreation mobility.

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Household spending and mobility

Lower levels of mobility at places for retail and recreation were associated with falls in household spending, when compared to pre-pandemic levels. Mobility and household spending for each state and territory, from pre-pandemic to the June quarter, is shown on Figure 4.

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a. Household consumption in seasonally adjusted volume measures.

From the March to the June quarter, all states had increases in mobility and recorded commensurate rises in household consumption. Victoria, which experienced the longest lockdown in the June quarter, recorded the smallest increase in household consumption. The lockdowns in the Northern Territory and New South Wales were implemented late in the June quarter and had no discernible impact on household spending. Household consumption in Queensland was driven by spending on travel, purchase and operation of vehicles, and electricity, gas and other fuels, while retail and recreation categories fell.

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a. Household consumption in seasonally adjusted volume measures.

One of the more stringent containment measures over the pandemic has been restrictions on the size of large gatherings, such as those at sporting events, concerts, and cultural events. The impact of this on mobility, and on household spending on these services, is shown in Figure 6.

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a. Sporting, recreational and cultural entertainment services consumption in original volume measures.

Restricted mobility throughout the pandemic reduced household spending on transport services substantially. Government containment measures included international and state border closures, which restricted transport services consumption. Additionally, self-reported use of public transport has fallen over the pandemic. Figure 7 shows the falls in transit station mobility and the impact on transport services spending since pre-pandemic.

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a. Transport services consumption in seasonally adjusted volume measures.

Despite the significant falls in travel since pre-pandemic, there were quarterly increases in both mobility at transit stations and spending on transport services. Increased domestic tourism and the commencement of the Trans-Tasman travel bubble contributed to the rise in activity.

Excluding Tasmania and the Northern Territory, each state recorded rises in spending on transport services for the fourth consecutive quarter. While transport and travel continue to remain at low levels, this indicates continued recovery. 

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a. Transport services consumption in seasonally adjusted volume measures.