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Pandemic’s economic pain worse for the young, migrants and women

March 16, 2021

Stella Avramopoulos, Good Shepherd CEO and SVP Advisory Board member, shares recent research on the economic impact of the Coronavirus – with the emergence of the ‘new vulnerable’.

The economic impact of the Coronavirus pandemic has created a new group of economically vulnerable people, with young people, recent migrants and women among those hardest hit.

Roy Morgan Research commissioned by Good Shepherd tracked around 19,000 working Australians between April and September 2020, with the findings showing that:

  • 56 per cent of working Australians in average or lower-income households had experienced negative employment changes such as having hours reduced, pay cut, being stood down or made redundant
  • Young people in the workforce were among those most financially impacted, with over half of those aged 14 to 24 made economically vulnerable
  • Migrants who have been in Australia less than five years were far more likely to have had their work negatively impacted, compared with longer term migrants and Australian-born citizens

Financially vulnerable need support

The research offered hard evidence that the most vulnerable were bearing the greatest economic impact of the pandemic.

These are shocking figures. Two out of five of all working Australians suffered job losses, cuts to hours and pay or being stood aside. Even worse, those already on average and lower incomes were the most affected.

Good Shepherd front-line workers see an increasing number of people from the newly vulnerable cohort every day. Their stories are similar – they can’t pay their rent or bills and their financial future is uncertain.

Despite the government supports being offered during this pandemic, financial distress is now the most significant welfare issue facing Australia. We need long-term, structural changes to the social welfare safety net, with new service models and cross-sector strategies.

People are overwhelmed, they are distressed and they often feel stigma and shame. Good Shepherd’s financial counsellors and other front-line staff have supported more than 15,000 people since this pandemic hit. People need safe, reliable information and support to help them navigate the multiple challenges they are facing.

Additional findings of the Roy Morgan study included:

  • 41 per cent of all working Australians (two out of five) have become economically vulnerable, with negative changes to their employment caused by the pandemic.
  • 56 per cent of working Australians on lower and average incomes have experienced negative changes to their employment caused by the pandemic.
  • More than 50 per cent of working Australians aged 14 to 24 have become economically vulnerable.
  • Migrants who have been in Australia less than five years are far more likely than Australian-born people to have become economically vulnerable, with  48 per cent of migrant working Australians on lower and average incomes who have been in Australia less than five years now vulnerable.
  • Small business operators and those working in recreation, entertainment and hospitality are the most likely to have become economically vulnerable, with 45 per cent of those working in industries such as sport and recreation, entertainment and hospitality who are on lower and average incomes now becoming economically vulnerable.