Latest release

Household Impacts of COVID-19 Survey

Insights into the prevalence and nature of impacts from COVID-19 on households in Australia.

Reference period
April 2022

Key statistics

  • Of those testing for COVID-19, 96% used a Rapid Antigen Test (up from 90% in March 2022).
  • 78% of Australians wore a face mask in the last week (down from 98% in February 2022).
  • 1% of Australians reported they did not expect to be able to pay one or more bills in the next three months (down from 3% in June 2020).

The April 2022 survey was run from 19 to 28 April 2022 via telephone interviews. Over 2,300 people were approached with 2,094 fully responding participants, a response rate of 88%.

The results for all past surveys can be accessed by selecting ‘View all releases.’

While some topics are the same as in previous surveys, relying exclusively on telephone interviews differs from the past monthly iterations of the 2021 survey, which gathered information via both telephone interviews and online forms. Where results are compared over time, comparisons are made based on the weighted representative data for each survey.

Respondents to the survey were people aged 18 years and over in private dwellings across Australia (excluding very remote areas).

Proportions marked with an asterisk (*) have a Margin of Error (MoE) greater than 10 percentage points which should be considered when using this information.

For more information about the survey design including weighting and MoEs refer to the Methodology.

COVID-19 context

At the time of the survey, COVID-19 restrictions continued to ease across Australia, with isolation rules for close contacts in households being lifted in some jurisdictions.

A fourth COVID-19 vaccination has been made available to those most susceptible to severe infection, as new COVID-19 variants have emerged, and flu season commenced.

Symptoms and testing

The survey asked about household experiences with COVID-19 symptoms, tests, and positive cases in the past four weeks. These questions were also asked in February and March 2022.

Compared to the previous month, more Australians in April 2022 reported that someone in the household had:

  • one or more symptoms of COVID-19 (32% compared with 21% in March)
  • any COVID-19 test (62% compared with 46% in March).

Of those taking a test in April 2022, most (96%) reported someone in their household had taken a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) (an increase from 90% reported in March).  

The difference between proportions of Australians reporting having a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test was not statistically different between April (22%) and March (26%). Australians were less likely to report difficulties obtaining a RAT in April 2022 compared with the previous month (1% down from 4% in March 2022).

Of those in households where someone had a COVID-19 test, 23% reported one or more household members had tested positive in April 2022 (an increase from 14% in March).

  1. Symptoms include cough, fever, difficulty breathing, sore throat, tiredness, joint aches, headache, runny or stuffy nose, any changes in taste or smell, nausea and/or vomiting, chills.
  2. Includes Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) or Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests.
  3. Of households where a member had a COVID-19 test, proportion where one or more tested positive.
  4. The proportion of positive COVID-19 cases relates only to the households reporting someone had taken a COVID-19 test in the four weeks prior to the survey. The data is not directly comparable with official measures of positive COVID-19 cases reported from health surveillance systems.

Precautions

Australians were asked in April 2022 what precautions they took in the last week, because of the spread of COVID-19. These questions were last asked in February 2022.

Australians were less likely to take precautions because of the spread of COVID-19, than in February 2022:   

  • Over three quarters of Australians (78%) reported wearing a face mask in April 2022 compared with nearly all Australians in February 2022 (98%).
  • 92% of people reported washing hands or using hand sanitiser regularly in April 2022 compared with 95% in February 2022.  
  • 75% of people kept their physical distance from people compared with 85% in February 2022.
  1. All data refers to precautions taken in the week before interview.
  2. Includes not shaking hands or hugging.
  3. Includes supermarket self-checkout.

Frequency of activities

The survey asked respondents how frequently they undertook selected activities one or more times a week in the last four weeks (last asked in February 2022).

Compared with February, Australians in April 2022 were more likely to use public transport one or more times a week (19% compared with 9%). The proportion of people participating one or more times a week in the last four weeks remained similar to February for all other activities.

Almost twice as many employed Australians worked from home one or more times a week in April 2022 compared with before COVID-19 restrictions in March 2020 (46% compared with 24%). Compared with before March 2020, in April 2022 fewer Australians regularly exercised at a gym/played sports (29% one or more times a week in April 2022 compared with 38% before March 2020) or attended social gatherings (20% in April 2022 compared with 27% before March 2020).   

  1. Includes shopping in physical stores only.
  2. Includes people 18 years and over with a job at the time of the survey.
  3. Includes social gatherings of 10 or more people.
  4. Usual participation in the activity before COVID-19 restrictions in March 2020.     

Household finances

Australians in April 2022 were more likely to report their household could raise $2,000 for something important within a week (87%) compared with April 2020 at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic (81%).

While a range of stimulus payments to households were administered from 31 March 2020, the impacts were not seen until June 2020, when 88% of households reported they could raise $2,000 for something important (similar to the current estimate of 87% reported in April 2022).   

Similar proportions of Australians in April 2022 compared with the beginning of the pandemic reported their household:

  • could raise $500 but not $2,000 for something important within a week (10% compared with 12% in April 2020)
  • could not raise $500 for something important within a week (2% compared with 5% in April 2020).

Around half as many Australians in April 2022, reported they did not expect to be able to pay one or more bills, such as gas, electricity, telephone, rent or mortgage repayments in the next three months compared with those after the pandemic had commenced in June 2020 (1% compared with 3%).

  1. All data refers to indicators of household financial stress in the week before interview.
  2. Examples provided of ‘something important’ included paying unexpected bills and covering the cost of emergencies.
  3. Estimate for April 2022 has an RSE over 50% and should be treated with caution.

School or childcare attendance

In April 2022, one in three (33%) Australian households with children aged under 18 years reported their children’s school, preschool or childcare attendance was impacted by COVID-19 (up from 23% in March 2022).  

Australians with children in the household whose childcare and school attendance was impacted by COVID-19 in the last four weeks, reported:  

  • a child being unable to attend due to being a COVID-19 close contact (*51%)
  • a child being unable to attend due to testing positive to COVID-19 (*44%)
  • a parent unwilling to send their child, or child unwilling to go to school or childcare due to COVID-19 (12%)
  • child required to learn from home, if possible (10%).

Working arrangements

Current job status

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. The results of this survey are not directly comparable to Australia’s official Labour Force measures. For more information refer to the Methodology.

The proportion of Australians with a job working paid hours has remained similar to the previous month (67% compared with 65% in March 2022). In April 2022, 2% of Australians with a job were not working any paid hours (compared with 3% in March 2022).

Persons aged 18 years and over, self-reported job status
Mar-21(b)Apr-21(a)May-21(a)Jun-21(a)Feb-22(c)Mar-22(b)Apr-22(a)
%%%%%%%
Has a job66676868686769
Working paid hours63636363666567
Not working paid hours3556232
Does not have a paid job(d)34333131313230
  1. Current job status based on changes between each collection.                              
  2. Current job status based on changes between each collection for previous panel and reported status for new panel members.
  3. Job status reported mid-February 2022.
  4. Includes all people without a job and should be considered only a loose approximation for the combined “unemployed” and “not in the labour force” groups.

Potential impact of COVID-19 on working arrangements

The survey asked employed Australians how their main job would be impacted if they contracted COVID-19. The most common responses in April 2022 included:

  • not being allowed to work until recovered or unable to work for the recommended isolation period (51%)
  • being required to work from home if well enough (41%)
  • could work from home if well enough (26%).

The most common responses were similar for employed Australians when asked the impacts for their main job if they were a close contact of someone with COVID-19:

  • 40% would not be allowed to work for the required isolation period
  • 39% would be required to work from home
  • 25% could choose to work from home.

Both questions allowed multiple responses and should not be summed to create an aggregate total.

Job situation changes in the last month

In April 2022, over one in six (18%) Australians reported that the job situation of someone in their household had changed in one or more ways due to COVID-19 in the last four weeks (similar to 20% reported in March 2022). 

Nearly twice as many Australians reported being unable to work for a period of time due to COVID-19 in April 2022 (7%) compared with the previous month (4%).

Of Australians with a household member who experienced a change in their job situation in April 2022, the reasons included:

  • testing positive to COVID-19 (32% up from 13% in March 2022)
  • close contact of someone with COVID-19 (28%, similar to *25% in March 2022)
  • absent work colleagues (26% similar to 27% in March 2022).

What's next?

The ABS would like to thank all participants for their involvement in the survey. The information collected is of value to inform government and community responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The results for all past publications can be accessed by selecting ‘View all releases’ in the header of this publication.

This publication forms part of a suite of additional products that the ABS produced 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.

Data downloads

Tables 1 - 14

Previous catalogue number

This release previously used catalogue number 4940.0.

Post release changes

18/05/2022 - Two estimates were corrected in the Working Arrangements, Current Job Status section. No other changes were made.