Nearly 1 in 3 Australians say they're in financial distress, with cuts to JobSeeker and JobKeeper just weeks away

  • Nearly one in three Australians say they’re experiencing financial distress, according to the University of Melbourne.
  • The figures “suggest that not everyone is seeing the benefits of the economic upturn,” said report author Professor Guay Lim.
  • Nearly a quarter of respondents said they feel anxious or depressed most of the time.
  • Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.

The nation’s economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic is ostensibly underway, but nearly one in three Australians say they’re experiencing financial distress, according to new survey results from the University of Melbourne.

The latest Taking the Pulse of the Nation results, revealed Monday, state some 31% of respondents now report difficulty paying for everyday essentials.

That figure has overtaken the percentage of Australians who say they’re “making ends meet”, which now rests at 26%.

At the same time, 43% of respondents said they feel financially comfortable.

The figures correspond with attendant dip in confidence with government policies, with 46% of respondents saying they’re satisfied with official measures to bolster job security, down from 62% eleven months ago.

And the nation’s mental wellbeing appears to have suffered in recent weeks, with 24% of respondents saying they feel anxious or depressed most of the time — the highest percentage since the University of Melbourne began the fortnightly survey series in April 2020.

Those results, collated over the first week of March, “suggest that not everyone is seeing the benefits of the economic upturn, said the report’s author Professor Guay Lim.

While unemployment figures drop, job listings rise, and property prices skyrocket, thousands of at-risk workers and jobless Australians face significant challenges when the JobKeeper wage subsidy and boosted JobSeeker unemployment payment cease at the end of the month.

Earlier studies, like the ME Bank Household Financial Comfort Report, have teased out the two layers of Australia’s recovery, with those who were financially stable before the pandemic reaping the benefits — while at-risk workers, students, and the unemployed face an uncertain financial future.

Speaking about the latest University of Melbourne findings, Professor Lim said a policy reset could mitigate the worst impacts of a two-tiered emergence from pandemic life.

“This is an opportunity for policy makers to address the persistent issue of job insecurity and underemployment, particularly among low and middle income earners,” he said.

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