Women, young adults and renters are among the Queenslanders hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to new findings released by the QCOSS (Queensland Council of Social Service), Queensland’s peak body for the social service sector.
The survey, of over 3,000 people, found that almost one in four Queenslanders saw a drop in working hours or even loss of employment during the pandemic. 35 per cent have seen their household income reduced.
“Queenslanders have been plunged into financial instability over the past 12 months and are facing ongoing pain,” said QCOSS CEO Aimee McVeigh.
“But the pandemic has hit some harder than others, with several groups more exposed to financial, employment and mental health consequences.”
The data highlighted seven groups and characteristics that have been the most affected by COVID-19:
- Precariously employed (casual or part-time employed)
- Self-employed, a small business owner or business partner
- Women (aged 18-54 years)
- Work seekers (unemployed persons and Job Seeker recipients)
- Young adults (aged 18-24 years)
- Temporary migrants
Women, the data found, have been disproportionally impacted harder by the pandemic than men when it comes to employment and work hours.
“Women, many of whom are on lower incomes, are also taking the opportunity to withdraw their superannuation early when compared to men,” Ms McVeigh said.
“This will only widen the financial gap between the sexes and put more pressure on women as they reach retirement age.”
Among the other findings:
- 41 per cent of casual or part-time workers lost employment or work hours during the pandemic, while only 12 per cent of full-timers saw the same.
- The number of renters that lost their jobs or worked less hours is almost twice that of mortgage holders.
- Renters have found it much harder to pay household bills – again, almost double compared to mortgage holders.
The QCOSS says the Queensland and Federal Governments need to take further action to support those affected, including maintaining JobSeeker payments above the poverty line and investing in social housing and energy efficiency for low-income households.
“It is critical that we take action to prevent these Queenslanders from falling into ongoing and long-term financial hardship,” Ms McVeigh said.
“Both the state and federal governments need to better target their economic stimulus to appropriately and adequately support these groups.”