The gap between Aussies thriving through COVID-19 and those suffering is only getting bigger, new ABS data shows

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  • Twice as many Australians earning more than $150,000 are optimistic their income will increase in the next 12 months than those earning a median income or below, a new ABS report revealed.
  • The data points to the compounding impact the country’s lockdowns are having on those in secure work compared to those facing work insecurity.
  • “The reality is that we’re seeing a two-speed COVID recovery,” Cassandra Goldie, CEO of the Australian Council of Social Service, said.
  • Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.

With each compounding Australian lockdown, the gap between those accumulating wealth and those struggling to make ends meet expands, according to newly released analysis.

New ABS figures examining Australian’s expectations around spending, savings, and income show that while those earning well above median wage or above felt confident their income would go up, few on the lower end of the scale agreed.

The survey revealed that in June, 26% of Australians expected their household income to increase over the next 12 months, while 11% expected they would more likely be making less over the next year.

More significantly, however, those earning $150,000 or more a year were twice as likely to have said they expect to be making more money by the end of 2021.

Almost one in three Australians surveyed earning $3,000 more weekly said they expected an increase in income.

In contrast, only 16% of those earning between $400 and $649 a week said the same.

The data also showed that 63% of Australians expected their household income to stay the same, a similar figure to that recorded in April of 2021.

The ABS reported on what Australians planned to do with savings accrued, with travel, home renovations and mortgage repayments topping the list at 32%, 16% and 15% respectively.

When broken down by main source of income, the data also revealed significant differences in expected changes to household income, with almost one in three, or 30% of households where the main source of income is through a salary expecting household income to increase over the next 12 months.

Only one in six, or 18% of households with a main source of income reported as coming from government pensions and allowances said the same.

Since the first pandemic lockdown in March 2021, and rolling snap lockdowns that have continued since, despite government support from Jobkeeper and targeted wage subsidy schemes, a survey from comparison site Finder found that 31% of Australians don’t have enough cash in reserve to cover a month’s worth of living expenses.

Cassandra Goldie, CEO of the Australian Council of Social Service said the economic fallout of the pandemic has been a story of haves and have-nots.

“The reality is that we’re seeing a two-speed COVID recovery,” Goldie said.

In December 2020, wealth per person hit a new record, and in the March quarter it hit another record of $492,055 — up $19,494 in three months.

However most of this came from existing assets, with property and superannuation representing the biggest contributors to rising wealth.

Despite the gap in sentiment, ABS figures released on Thursday show that the country’s unemployment rate fell to 4.9% in June, its lowest level since December 2010.

The new data showed that 29,000 jobs were added to the economy last month.