Latest Quarterly Household Budget Report by SAS® and NATSEM

  • Living standards of the younger generation outpace older generations’
  • Continued but slower increase in Living Standards
  • Lower Income Growth balanced by Lower Cost of Living increases
  • Significant state-by-state variances

The SAS-NATSEM Household Budget Report – released today – shows Australia’s living standards continued to increase during the quarter to end-March 2015, although at a slower rate than in the previous quarter. Household incomes grew slightly while the cost of living was flat.

The living standards increase was just 0.2 per cent during the three months and 1.2 per cent for the year to end-March. Household incomes grew 0.2 per cent for the quarter against 1.9 per cent for the year, while cost of living growth was just 0.7 per cent over the 12 months and flat for the quarter.

Along with today’s SAS-NATSEM report for Q1-2015, a separate exercise threw up some interesting insights into variances experienced by different age groups over recent decades. It was found that households headed by under-35s enjoyed living standard increases of 58.4 per cent between 1988 and 2011 compared with 52 per cent for 35 to 49 year-olds.

In terms of actual incomes amongst working age households there was little difference over that period between under-35s, the 35 to 49 group and people aged 50 to 65. Living standards for the 65-plus group were significantly lower, reflecting the more limited resource requirements of that age group.

NATSEM’s Ben Phillips notes that, “While living standards in Australia continued to increase, they did so at little more than half the long term trend of around two per cent. Income growth was also lower than average but was offset by lower cost of living increases.”

He added, “With state by state variances, the average Australian household enjoyed an annualised living standard gain equivalent to $168 in the March quarter and $897 over the full year. The largest individual gain for the year was recorded by the Northern Territory at $3,535 and was in sharp contrast to the outcome for the ACT where households were worse off by $697. At an increase of only 0.1 per cent for the quarter and 0.9 per cent for the year, the Western Australia living standards increase was well down on the five year average of 2.0 per cent.

The report’s charts, below, illustrate that cost of living changes were low across all states and territories. Western Australia recorded the largest gain, but at only 0.3 per cent while at the other end of the scale, the Northern Territory’s cost of living fell back by 0.3 per cent.

There was little difference in the quarter between income levels and family and tenure types, with living costs flat for all households. Across Australia, the quarter’s biggest price increases were those in education at 5.3 per cent – equating to $124 – and health at 2.8 per cent, or $136 for the quarter. Over the full year, the biggest price increase was for food at 4.9 per cent or $209 per household. Small price offsets to these increases were in mortgage repayments and household goods and services, at minus $38 and $34, respectively.

This interactive report is now available to the general public at no cost, at


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Editorial contacts:

  • SAS Australia and New Zealand

    Amar Vohra
    Director, Corporate Communications
    Tel: +61 2 9428 0592
  • University of Canberra

    Ben Phillips
    Principal Research Fellow
    The National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling
    Tel: +61 2 6201 2760

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