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Millions of Aussies under financial stress

Australian walking in the city financial stress concept. Australian money notes.
Millions of Aussies are in financial stress, with many people working more but getting paid less. (Source: Getty)

One in four Aussies are struggling to get by despite working more hours, new research has revealed.

Aussies are feeling more financially stressed now than any other time since the start of the pandemic, according to the Australian National University’s latest survey of 3,500 people.

"When COVID hit Australia, the number of hours each adult worked on average plummeted, from 21.9 hours per week in February 2020 to 18.5 hours per week in May that year,” the study’s co-author, Professor Nicholas Biddle, said.

"Average hours worked per week now sit at 22.6 hours."

While Aussies are working more hours than two years ago, ‘real’ wages haven’t caught up, meaning Aussies are still earning less due to rising inflation.

"This is putting them under increasing financial stress,” co-author of the study Professor Matthew Gray said.

According to the study, the average household income dropped from almost $1,800 per week in February 2020 to $1,629 per week in October 2022, adjusted for inflation.

More than half of people in Australia’s lowest income bracket - earning $422 per week in October 2022 - said they were struggling to get by on their current income.

In comparison, only 5 per cent of people in Australia’s highest income bracket in October - $3,529 per week - said they were struggling.

Inflation causing pressure

The survey also found that 48 per cent of Australians thought prices had gone up “a lot more” during the pandemic and about 57 per cent thought price rises were a very big problem.

"Clearly the cost of living is making it tough for many Australians despite our economy and society coming out of lockdowns and opening up," Biddle said.

Australia’s inflation rate rose to 7.3 per cent over the past year, the highest level since 1990.

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) said it would keep increasing interest rates - following a 0.25 per cent hike on Tuesday - if needed, to curb inflation.

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