Australia’s economy grew in the December quarter as Aussies hit the shops to register the largest increase in non-essential spending in history.
New data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) revealed the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew 3.4 per cent compared to the September quarter.
At the end of 2021, the Australian economy was officially 3.4 per cent bigger than it was before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic way back in December 2019.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the data showed Australia was enjoying “one of the strongest economic recoveries in the world”.
“This is no accident. This is not the result of good luck. This is the result of hard work of 26 million Australians and an economic plan that is working,” Mr Frydenberg said.
“Despite the uncertainties in the global outlook, and the ongoing impacts of COVID-19, the Australian economy is in a very strong position.
“I want to repeat that.”
The Treasurer referred to Australia’s low unemployment rate of 4.2 per cent as being world-leading.
“There are now more Australians in work than at the start of the pandemic. With our labour market also outperforming all major advanced economies in the world,” Mr Frydenberg said.
“In stark contrast, in the United States, United Kingdom, Japan, Germany and Italy, employment is still well below pre-pandemic levels.”
Of note in the national accounts was the huge amount of money spent on shopping and dining out.
Non-essential spending (which tracks anything other than necessary payments such as groceries, rent or mortgage repayments) rose 14.2 per cent in the December 2021 quarter, marking the largest increase in record.
Essential spending – such as on housing and food – rose a moderate 1.9 per cent.
Sean Crick, acting head of National Accounts at the ABS, said the December quarter represented a number of Aussies returning to normal life after prolonged Delta-strain lockdowns.
“After experiencing a fall of 1.9 per cent in the September quarter due to a number of state lockdowns, the Australian economy recovered in the December quarter, growing 3.4 per cent and surpassing the pre-Delta June quarter 2021 level,” Mr Crick said.
“Domestic demand drove the growth this quarter, with high levels of household spending, particularly in the states that emerged from COVID-19 lockdowns.
“Household spending in NSW, Victoria and the ACT rose 9.6 per cent, compared to the rest of Australia which rose 1.6 per cent.”