Stimulus money used on household bills, savings and food

Media Release

One in three Australians (32 per cent) received a Commonwealth stimulus payment in May with adding to saving and household expenses the most common uses, according to data released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

ABS Head of Household Surveys, Michelle Marquardt, said the detailed data, collected in May 2020, provided new insights into the economic and social impacts of the pandemic on Australians.

“People were most likely to use the May stimulus payments to add to savings (29 per cent); pay bills (28 per cent); and purchase food and non-alcoholic drinks (12%),” Ms Marquardt said.

“People living in Tasmania were the most likely to have received a stimulus payment in May (47 per cent) followed by people in South Australia (39 per cent) and Queensland (37 per cent).

“Women were more likely to have received a stimulus payment than men (36 per cent compared to 27 per cent) and Australians without a non-school qualification were more likely to have received a stimulus payment (41 per cent) than those with a qualification (27 per cent).”

The survey showed that older people were most likely to have added the stimulus payment to their savings (37 per cent) or used it to make purchases such as food and furnishings (39 per cent).

People under 65 years of age were more likely to use the money to pay household bills, mortgages and other debts (47%) as were those who were employed (44 per cent) or unemployed (63 per cent).

The survey also found that the majority of Australians adopted measures to combat the spread of COVID-19, including social distance (95 per cent), cancelling personal gatherings (77 per cent) and avoiding public spaces (75 per cent).

“There were interesting findings comparing the actions of people born overseas and those born in Australia,” Ms Marquardt said.

“People born overseas were more than twice as likely to have worn a facemask at least once in the four weeks before the survey was conducted (42 per cent) than people born in Australia (20 per cent) and to purchase additional medical supplies than those born in Australia (24 per cent compared to 15 per cent).

“Three in five people born overseas (62 per cent) avoided public transport compared to half of those born in Australia (49 per cent).”

The ABS would like to thank those Australian households that have contributed to the survey results.

Media notes

  •  Information was collected between 10 May and 23 May 2020 from approximately 2,600 people via telephone interview.
  • The MPHS, undertaken each financial year by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), is a supplement to the monthly Labour Force Survey (LFS) and is designed to collect statistics for a number of small, self-contained topics.
  • Information on ABS products being produced to measure the impact of COVID-19 on Australia can be found on the ABS website.
  • When reporting ABS data you must attribute the Australian Bureau of Statistics (or the ABS) as the source.
  • For media requests and interviews, contact the ABS Media Team on 1300 175 070 (8:30am-5pm Mon-Fri).
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