According to the latest Household Budget Report from advanced analytics provider SAS and the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling (NATSEM), for the three months to the end of last March the living standards increase was just 0.2%, and 1.2% for the year to the end of March.
In the income stakes, increases were also low, with household incomes growing 0.2% for the quarter against 1.9% for the year, while cost of living growth was just 0.7% over the 12 months and flat for the quarter.
One interesting insight from the survey which looked at variances experienced by different age groups over recent decades, reveals that that households headed by under-35s enjoyed living standard increases of 58.4% between 1988 and 2011 compared with 52% for 35 to 49 year-olds.
And, living standards for the 65-plus group were significantly lower, reflecting what SAS/NATSEM observe is the more limited resource requirements of that age group.
“While living standards in Australia continued to increase, they did so at little more than half the long term trend of around 2%. Income growth was also lower than average but was offset by lower cost of living increases,” says NATSEM’s Ben Phillips.
“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%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%.
The report found that cost of living changes were low across all states and territories, with Western Australia recording the largest gain, but at only 0.3%, while at the other end of the scale, the Northern Territory’s cost of living fell back by 0.3%.
It’s also revealed that 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% – equating to $124 – and health at 2.8% or $136 for the quarter.
Over the full year, the biggest price increase was for food at 4.9% or $209 per household, with small price offsets to these increases in mortgage repayments and household goods and services, at minus $38 and $34, respectively.