This is not the latest release View the latest release

Household Impacts of COVID-19 Survey

Coronavirus impacts on job status, JobKeeper, superannuation, loan repayments, living arrangements, childcare, schooling and care provided

Reference period
12-15 May 2020
Released
29/05/2020

Key statistics

  • 76% of Australians with children in their household kept them home from school or childcare due to COVID-19.
  • 22% of adults with children in their household changed their working hours to care for children kept home.
  • Women were almost three times as likely as men to look after children full-time on their own.
  • 13% of Australian adults provided unpaid care to a person living outside their household due to COVID-19. 

About this issue

This publication presents results from the fourth Household Impacts of COVID-19 Survey, a longitudinal survey which collects information from approximately 1,000 people fortnightly via telephone. The enumeration period for the fourth cycle was the 12th to the 15th of May 2020.

The fourth cycle of the survey collected information on:

  • current job status;
  • whether eligible for JobKeeper payment;
  • whether eligible for early access to superannuation;
  • whether received payment relief due to COVID-19;
  • temporary living arrangements during COVID-19;
  • caring for children and childcare and schooling arrangements during COVID-19; and
  • care and assistance provided to vulnerable people inside and outside the household.
     

The scope of the survey was persons aged 18 years and over in private dwellings across Australia (excluding very remote areas).

About this collection

This collection series is designed to provide a quick snapshot about how Australian households are faring in response to the changing social and economic environment caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Each cycle has collected new information on different topics.

Results from the first Household Impacts of COVID-19 Survey, released on the 20th of April, are available on the ABS website here.

Results from the second Household Impacts of COVID-19 Survey, released on the 1st of May, are available on the ABS website here.

Results from the third Household Impacts of COVID-19 Survey, released on the 18th of May, are available on the ABS website here.

At the time of the survey, a range of initiatives had been announced to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and support the economy. These included:

  • introduction of international travel restrictions;
  • the first announcement of an economic stimulus package (12 March);
  • introduction of border control measures for some states and territories;
  • shutting down of non-essential services and the announcement of a second economic stimulus package (22 March);
  • a safety net package of $1.1 billion to expand mental health and tele-health services, increase domestic violence services and provide more emergency food relief (29 March);
  • social distancing rules and additional shutdown restrictions (20-30 March);
  • JobKeeper payment announcement (30 March);
  • free childcare for working parents (2 April);
  • legislation passed for the JobKeeper payment to keep more Australians in jobs and support businesses affected by the coronavirus (15 April);
  • restrictions on elective surgery gradually eased from Tuesday 28 April;
  • slight easing of restrictions in some states and territories (1-12 May); and
  • Federal Government’s three-stage plan to begin easing restrictions (8 May).
     

Proportions marked with an asterisk (*) have a margin of error >10 percentage points which should be considered when using this information. For more information about margin of error refer to the methodology.

Current job status, superannuation, payment relief

Key findings

  • The proportion of Australians aged 18 years and over with a job remained stable between early-April (63.4%) and mid-May (63.2%);
  • Approximately three in four Australians (73%) who applied for early access to their superannuation had received the money by mid-May; and
  • One in fifteen Australians (7%) reported that one or more people in their household had to defer or reduce a financial payment due to COVID-19.
     

Current job status

The survey collected information on the current (mid-May) job status of all respondents, and whether their job situation had changed in the previous two weeks.

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. The margins of error on these estimates are around seven times greater than Labour Force statistics (given the Labour Force Survey sample is around 50 times larger). More information about measuring the labour market impacts of COVID-19 can be found here.

The table below shows the self-reported job status of Australians aged 18 years and over covering the period early-March to mid-May.

Table 1 - Persons aged 18 years and over, self-reported job status

 Early March (1st survey cycle)Early April (1st survey cycle)Mid-April (2nd survey cycle)Early May (3rd survey cycle)Mid-May (4th survey cycle)
Has a job66.2%63.4%63.6%64.2%63.2%
Working paid hours64.0%55.8%56.6%59.0%58.7%
Not working paid hours2.2%7.6%7.0%5.3%4.5%
Does not have a paid job(a)33.8%36.6%36.4%35.8%36.8%
a. 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. 
 

The survey found that the proportion of people reporting they had a job was at a similar level in mid-May (63.2%) as in early-April (63.4%). The proportion of people indicating that they had worked paid hours increased slightly over the same period, from 55.8% in early-April to 58.7% in mid-May, however this increase was not statistically significant.

The next results of the Labour Force Survey, with data in respect of the first two weeks of May, collected over a three-week period from 10 May to 30 May, will be published on Thursday 18 June.

JobKeeper payment

Respondents were asked if they were eligible to receive a fortnightly payment of $1,500 from their employer, as part of the JobKeeper Payment.

Of persons aged 18 years and over who had a job in mid-May:

  • One in five (20%) said they were eligible to receive the fortnightly JobKeeper payment;
  • A further 7% did not know whether they were eligible for the payment; and
  • One in eight (13%) had started receiving the fortnightly JobKeeper payment.
     

Early access to superannuation

Due to the financial impacts of COVID-19, the Federal Government announced on the 22nd of March that affected individuals would be able to apply for early release of their superannuation.

Respondents who currently have superannuation were asked if they had applied to access some of their superannuation under the special arrangements, whether they had received the money yet, and how they planned on using the money.

The results of the survey estimated that one in twenty Australians aged 18 years and over who had superannuation applied for early access (5%).

People who did not have a job in mid-May were more likely to have applied for early access to their superannuation than those who had a job (9% compared with 3%).

Approximately three in four (73%*) of those who had applied for early access to their superannuation had received the money by mid-May.

People who had applied for early access to their superannuation were asked about the ways they used or planned to use the money:

  • 57%* used or planned to use the money to pay household bills, mortgage, rent and other debts; and
  • 36%* added or planned to add it to savings.
     

Payment relief due to COVID-19

The survey asked Australians aged 18 years or over whether they or anyone else in their household received any payment relief due to COVID-19. This includes deferred or reduced mortgage repayments, rental payments, credit card repayments, bill/rate payments, and other loan repayments.

One in fifteen Australians (7%) reported that one or more people in their household received at least one type of payment relief due to COVID-19.

  • Persons living in a home owned with a mortgage were more likely to report that one or more people within their household had received at least one type of payment relief (12%), than persons living in a home owned outright (3%) and those renting (4%).
     

The previous results for this survey estimated that 13% of people who lived in a home owned with a mortgage had difficulty in paying the mortgage for their home or an investment property.

This cycle found 7% of people living in a home owned with a mortgage said they or someone in their household deferred or reduced their mortgage repayments due to COVID-19.

Caring and assistance provided to vulnerable people within the household

Key findings

Since March 1st:

  • Nearly a quarter of Australian adults (23%*) provided more unpaid care to a vulnerable person in their household because of COVID-19; and
  • The most common activity for which extra care was provided to vulnerable people living in the same household was shopping, including groceries (65%*).
     

Assistance provided to vulnerable people within the household

The survey asked respondents if, since March 1st 2020, they had provided more unpaid care or assistance above the level of care they would usually provide to a vulnerable person living in the same household due to COVID-19. A vulnerable person is defined as a person aged 65 years or over, or a person aged under 65 years with a disability or long-term health condition.

Nearly a quarter of adults (23%*) provided more unpaid care to a vulnerable person in their household because of COVID-19. Men and women were equally likely to have provided more unpaid care (both 23%*).

People aged 18 to 64 years were more than four times as likely as those aged 65 years and over to have provided increased care to a vulnerable person living in the same household because of COVID-19 (35%* compared with 8%).

However, it is important to note that those aged 65 years and over are more likely than their younger counterparts to already be providing care and assistance to a vulnerable person. In 2018, 17% of all those aged 65 years and over reported providing some care to a vulnerable person, compared with 13% of people aged 18 to 64 years (Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers).

Types of unpaid care provided to vulnerable persons in the same household

Of those who provided more unpaid care to a vulnerable person in their household since March 1st due to COVID-19, the most common activities for which this extra care was provided were:

  • Shopping, including groceries (65%*);
  • Cooking and meal preparation (41%*); and
  • Household chores and home maintenance (37%*).
     
Download
  1. Since March 1st 2020 due to COVID-19.
  2. A person aged 65 years or over, or a person aged under 65 years with a disability or long-term health condition.
  3. Care or assistance may have been provided for more than one activity.

Proportions marked with an asterisk (*) have a margin of error >10 percentage points.

Of those who provided extra care to a vulnerable person in their household since March 1st due to COVID-19:

  • Almost half (46%*) expected to cease providing this extra care before, or as soon as, COVID-19 restrictions ease; and
  • More than one third (39%*) expected to cease increased care responsibilities after COVID-19 restrictions ease.

Caring and assistance provided to vulnerable people outside the household

Key findings

Since March 1st:

  • One in eight Australian adults (13%) provided unpaid care to a vulnerable person living outside their household because of COVID-19; and
  • Common types of assistance provided to vulnerable people living outside the household were shopping (80%) and provision of meals (49%*).
     

Assistance provided to vulnerable people outside the household

The survey asked respondents if, since March 1st 2020, they had provided care or assistance to a vulnerable person living outside their household (that is, a person aged 65 years or over, or a person aged under 65 years with a disability or long-term health condition), due to COVID-19.

Since March 1st:

  • Around one in eight adults (13%) provided unpaid care to a vulnerable person outside their household because of COVID-19;
  • Family members were the most commonly reported recipients of care (80%) for people providing care to others outside their household due to COVID-19.
     

People aged 18 to 64 years were more likely to have provided care to a vulnerable person outside their household due to COVID-19 than those aged 65 years and over (14% compared with 8%).

However, it is important to note that those aged 65 years and over are more likely than their younger counterparts to already be providing care and assistance to a vulnerable person. In 2018, 17% of all those aged 65 years and over reported providing some care to a vulnerable person, compared with 13% of people aged 18 to 64 years (Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers).

Types of unpaid care provided to vulnerable person outside the household

Of those who provided unpaid care to a vulnerable person outside their household since March 1st due to COVID-19, the most common activities for which care was provided were:

  • Shopping, including groceries (80%);
  • Providing home-made meals or other food (49%*); and
  • Mobility and transport (27%*).
     
Download
  1. Since March 1st 2020 due to COVID-19.
  2. A person aged 65 years or over, or a person aged under 65 years with a disability or long-term health condition.
  3. Care or assistance may have been provided for more than one activity.

Proportions marked with an asterisk (*) have a margin of error >10 percentage points.

Frequency of care provided to a vulnerable person outside the household

Of those who provided unpaid care to a vulnerable person outside their household since March 1st due to COVID-19:

  • Around three in five people provided this care on at least a weekly basis (28%* provided care multiple times a week and 33% provided care once or twice a week);
  • The remaining two in five people provided this care less than once a week or on an irregular as-needed basis.
     
Download
  1. Since March 1st 2020 due to COVID-19.
  2. A person aged 65 years or over, or a person aged under 65 years with a disability or long-term health condition.
  3. Refers to the frequency of care at the time of the survey.

Proportions marked with an asterisk (*) have a margin of error >10 percentage points.

When unpaid care to a vulnerable person is expected to cease

Of those who provided unpaid care to a vulnerable person outside their household since March 1st due to COVID-19:

  • More than half (58%*) did not expect this care to cease until after COVID-19 restrictions ease;
  • Nearly a quarter (23%) were unsure when they would cease providing care.
     
Download
  1. Since March 1st 2020 due to COVID-19.
  2. A person aged 65 years or over, or a person aged under 65 years with a disability or long-term health condition. 

Proportions marked with an asterisk (*) have a margin of error >10 percentage points.

Caring for children

Key findings

  • Three in four Australians (76%) with children in their household had kept them home from school or childcare due to COVID-19;
  • One in five adults (22%) changed their working hours to care for children kept at home, while 38%* worked from home;
  • Three-quarters (76%) of adults with school-aged children said their children were doing online or remote schooling during the COVID-19 restrictions; and
  • Over half (59%*) of parents with school-aged children who were schooling online or remotely said their children were having difficulties concentrating while learning from home.
     

Caring for children who stayed home from school or childcare due to COVID-19 restrictions

The survey asked respondents about children in their household’s care and education arrangements during COVID-19 restrictions.

A third of all Australians aged 18 years and over (34%) said they had children in the household, including primary school aged children, secondary students, children enrolled in preschool, younger, children, and babies.

Three in four Australians (76%) with children in their household had kept them home from school or childcare due to COVID-19. In order to care for their children who had to stay home:

  • 38%* worked from home;
  • 22% worked reduced hours or changed their working hours; and
  • 13% took leave from work.
     
Download
  1. More than one work change may have been reported.

Proportions marked with an asterisk (*) have a margin of error >10 percentage points.

In terms of how the caring responsibilities for children who stayed at home due to COVID-19 were managed within the household:

  • 33% of adults said they looked after the children full-time on their own, with women almost three times as likely to do so than men (46%* compared with 17%*);
  • 50% of adults said they shared child caring responsibilities with someone else in the household; and
  • 12% said they did not need to look after the children as they did not need parental supervision.
     
Download
  1. More than one care arrangement may have been reported

Whether school-aged children are experiencing difficulties with online or remote learning

Three-quarters (76%) of adults in households with primary/secondary school-aged children said their children were doing online or remote schooling during the COVID-19 restrictions.

The most common difficulties experienced by children who were schooling online or remotely, as reported by adults, include:

  • Difficulty concentrating (59%*);
  • Feeling lonely (49%*);
  • Anxiety (33%*); and
  • No access to a stable internet connection (15%)
     
Download
  1. As reported by the adult respondent.
  2. More than one difficulty may have been reported.

Proportions marked with an asterisk (*) have a margin of error >10 percentage points.

Almost a quarter (23%) of adults who kept their children at home due to COVID-19 bought additional equipment such as computers or desks to support their children's learning.

Temporary living arrangements

Key findings

  • One in twenty-five Australians (4%) reported that at least one person had temporarily stayed in their household since the 1st of March due to COVID-19;
  • Half (51%*) of those temporarily living elsewhere were not able to return to their usual residence due to lockdown of borders or travel restrictions; and
  • One-quarter (24%*) of those temporarily living elsewhere were doing so in order to assist with care.
     

The survey asked Australians aged 18 years or over whether anyone had stayed temporarily in their household due to COVID-19 since the 1st of March.

One in twenty-five Australians (4%) reported that at least one person had temporarily stayed in their household since this date.

The most common reasons for the temporary living arrangements included:

  • Not being able to return to usual residence (e.g. due to lock down of borders or travel restrictions) (51%*); and
  • Felt less isolated/alone or felt safer at temporary residence (31%*).
     

Of persons who had someone stay with them due to COVID-19, 47%* still had someone living in the household temporarily while 53%* reported they no longer had a temporary guest.

What’s next?

The ABS followed up the same survey respondents again on the 26th of May to undertake the fifth cycle of the Household Impacts of COVID-19 Survey. The topics covered in the fifth cycle included:

  • job status;
  • flu vaccination;
  • precautions;
  • education and skill development;
  • time use; and
  • activity after relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions.
     

Information from this fifth survey will be released on the 15th of June 2020.

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 outbreak.

Household Impacts visual summary

Show all

Household Impacts of COVID-19 Survey results

The following section describes the visual summary presented above.

Household impacts of COVID-19 include well-being, behavioural and social measures.

  • 3 out of 4 Australians with children in their household kept them home from school or childcare, As a result, 38% worked from home, 22% reduced or changed their working hours, and 13% took leave from work.
  • Women were almost three times as likely to look after children full-time on their own (46% compared to 17% for men).
  • Poor internet connection a problem for 1 in 7 school-age children learning from home.
  • 1 in 8 adults provided unpaid care to a vulnerable person living outside their household. Around 3 in 5 provided this care at least weekly, and family members were the most common recipients (80%).
  • Shopping was most common type of care provided to those outside the household (80%) followed by provision of meals (49%).


Detailed data on the impacts of COVID-19 can be found at abs.gov.au/covid19

Data downloads

Data item list

Tables 1-10

History of changes

Show all

03/06/2020 - Data item list and a data cube containing a selection of tables were added to the Data downloads section.