Aussies are wealthier than ever after stashing cash this year


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The COVID-19 pandemic has led to household wealth hitting a record high as Australians stashed their cash during a year plagued with volatile markets and an economic shutdown.

Total household wealth increased 1.7% to a record high of $11.35 trillion, according to the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

ABS head of finance and wealth Amanda Seneviratne said the September quarter estimate surpassed the previous high of $11.24 trillion recorded in December quarter 2019.

aussies wealthier than ever

Residential assets, deposits and superannuation balances all saw increases in the quarter and were the main contributors to growth.

Super balances increased 1.1% in the quarter, reversing some of the damage that has been done by those who removed their retirement savings through the early release of super scheme.

Average household wealth increased 1.6% (up $6850) to $441,649 per person in the September quarter.

The ABS said 0.1% increase in the population was the reason total wealth grew marginally more than average wealth.

"The September quarter 2020 financial accounts reflected improvements in the Australian and global financial markets, as well as a partial recovery of the domestic economy in response to government and RBA policies, and easing social restrictions across most of Australia," Seneviratne said.

Residential assets rose $86.8 billion, recouping the losses experienced in the June quarter.

Holding gains of $73.6 billion on residential assets reflected a rebound in property prices as social distancing measures (restrictions on auctions and open house inspections) eased and economic conditions began to improve.

The ABS said household deposits increased a record $63.7 billion as households continued to save at elevated levels during the September quarter.

Continuing government income support packages such as JobKeeper, economic support payments, and early access to superannuation were listed by the ABS as key drivers of the increase in deposits.

This article first appeared on Financial Standard

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Eliza Bavin was a senior journalist at Financial Standard from September 2019 to March 2021. She has a Bachelor's degree in communications (journalism) from Charles Sturt University.