Household Impacts of COVID-19 Survey methodology

This is not the latest release View the latest release
Reference period
10-15 June 2020

Explanatory notes


This publication presents results from the sixth Household Impacts of COVID-19 Survey, conducted throughout Australia between 10 Jun and 15 Jun 2020.

It is the sixth survey in a new series, designed to provide a quick snapshot about how people in Australian households are faring in response to the changing social and economic environment caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Results from the earlier Household Impacts of COVID-19 Surveys can be found using the following links:

The sixth survey collected data about the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on jobs, spending, financial stress, use of the Coronavirus Supplement and JobKeeper Payment, travel and return to activities. This information is critical to informing the government response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia.

More Household Impacts of COVID-19 Surveys focusing on the real-time impacts of COVID-19 are in development. These will include new topics and repeat topics from previous cycles to measure changes over time. People who took part in the first Household Impacts of COVID-19 Survey will be asked to respond to the upcoming surveys to continue to build on the findings.

This publication forms part of a suite of additional products that the ABS is producing to measure the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Australian economy and society.

For more information refer to the Measuring the impacts of COVID-19 update.

Sample/panel design and estimation

The panel for the survey originally comprised 1,180 private dwellings. The panel was sourced from a sample of approximately 3,000 households who had completed an on-line or telephone interview in late February/early March 2020. The interview collected information about basic demographic characteristics of people living in the household. Primarily, the person (aged 18 years or over) who completed those household details became the person selected for the survey. Their participation in the survey was voluntary and respondents could opt out at any point.

Of the 1,180 dwellings selected in the first survey, there were 22 dwellings identified as sample loss, leaving 1,158 dwellings. Of these, 1,059 individuals adequately completed the first questionnaire, achieving an overall panel response rate of 91.5%. This defined the longitudinal panel for the remainder of the upcoming surveys. For this sixth survey, 991 individuals adequately completed the survey which is an 85.6% response rate from the original 1,158 panel. As with each subsequent survey, there were a small number of individuals identified as full refusals or sample loss, who will not be contacted for future cycles of the survey. There are now 71 full refusals in total across the six cycles.

Although the panel selection methodology was not strictly a random sample, the coverage of selections included all Australian geographies (excluding very remote locations) to ensure national estimates could be produced.

Furthermore, this panel data was weight adjusted using the ABS Estimated Residential Population (ERP) as at the end of March 2020. Benchmarks comprised of Age, Sex, and Geographic variables. In addition, adjustments were made based on the number of persons living in the household and the education level of the selected person.

Due to the changes in non-responding households across the survey cycles, each survey sample is re-weighted in order to maintain consistent full population estimates across the surveys.

Data collection

Telephone interviews were conducted with one randomly selected person aged 18 years and over who was a usual resident of the selected household.

Information was collected electronically by specially trained ABS interviewers using a Computer Assisted Interview (CAI) instrument.

The topics covered in the sixth Household Impacts of COVID-19 Survey include:

  • changes in spending habits
  • financial stress
  • use of stimulus payments
  • return to activities (including future intentions)
  • travel intentions
  • job status.

For a full list of data items collected, refer to the Data Item List available for download from the Data downloads section.

Stimulus payments

The Commonwealth Government is providing eligible individuals with stimulus payments during this COVID-19 pandemic. We asked about the stimulus payments people may be receiving in the second survey and revisited the topic in the sixth survey.

The survey only asked about payments to individuals, not business owners, and money they are currently receiving, not what they may have received in the past or are still expecting to receive. This included the $550 Coronavirus Supplement and the $1500 JobKeeper Payment.

Coronavirus Supplement: A supplement of $550 per fortnight paid to income support recipients. This has been payable from 27 April to recipients of:

  • JobSeeker Payment (formerly known as Newstart Allowance)
  • Youth Allowance
  • Sickness Allowance
  • ABSTUDY (Living Allowance)
  • Austudy
  • Parenting Payment
  • Partner Allowance
  • Widow Allowance
  • Farm Household Allowance
  • Special Benefit.

More information can be found at the Department of Social Services Coronavirus (COVID-19) information and support page.

JobKeeper Payment: Affected employers and sole traders are able to claim $1,500 per fortnight per eligible employee from 30 March 2020.

Eligible employees are those who are currently employed by an eligible employer, including those who were stood down or re-hired, and:

  • were a permanent or part-time employee at 1 March, OR
  • were a long-term casual employee (at least 12 months) and not a permanent employee of another business at 1 March.

Sole traders are able to claim the JobKeeper Payment providing they satisfy certain eligibility requirements.

The survey only asked about the $1,500 JobKeeper Payment received by eligible individuals aged 18 years and over.

More information can be found at the Australian Taxation Office JobKeeper Payment page.

Current job status

The survey collected information about the current job status of all respondents, and changes to their job situation in the two weeks prior to survey. The survey was designed to provide a snapshot of the changes being experienced by Australians due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Respondents were asked simple questions about changes to their job situation, rather than the full suite of employment-related questions included in the ABS' Labour Force Survey (see Questionnaires Used in the Labour Force Survey (cat. no. 6232.0)). The results of this survey are, therefore, not directly comparable to Australia’s official labour force measures.

For more information about measuring the labour market impacts of COVID-19 please see the educational piece Measuring the Labour Market impacts of COVID-19.

Margin of error

Margin of Error (MoE) describes the distance from the population value that the sample estimate is likely to be within, and is specified at a given level of confidence. MoEs presented in this publication are at the 95% confidence level. This means that there are 19 chances in 20 that the estimate will differ by less than the specified MoE from the population value (the figure obtained if all in-scope dwellings had been enumerated).


The Data Cubes, containing all tables for this publication in Excel spreadsheet format, are available from the Data downloads section. The spreadsheets present tables of proportions and their corresponding MoE.


The Census and Statistics Act 1905 provides the authority for the ABS to collect statistical information, and requires that statistical output shall not be published or disseminated in a manner that is likely to enable the identification of a particular person or organisation. This requirement means that the ABS must take care and make assurances that any statistical information about individual respondents cannot be derived from published data.


The ABS would like to thank all participants for their involvement in the survey. The information collected is critical to informing the government response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia.

ABS surveys draw extensively on information provided by individuals, businesses, governments and other organisations. Their continued cooperation is very much appreciated and without it, the wide range of statistics published by the ABS would not be available. Information received by the ABS is treated in strict confidence as required by the Census and Statistics Act 1905.


The ABS Privacy Policy outlines how the ABS will handle any personal information that you provide to the ABS.

Back to top of the page