Australian Bureau of Statistics figures released today suggests a recession will be called in about September – ending what might be a never again experienced 29 years of economic growth.
The news come after what treasurer Josh Frydenberg describes as a one in 100 year global health crisis.
In April, the country was said to be in its deepest downturn since the 1920s.
GDP results for the March 2020 quarter – so after the bushfires but before the full effects of the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, both black swan events – showed a 0.3 per cent contraction.
Household consumption dropped 1.1pc – the biggest quarter fall since 1986.
Today Mr Frydenberg said the economy is in the midst of a recession – defined in Australia as occurring following two or more quarters of negative growth.
An anticipated contraction following this (June) quarter is likely to be made official in about September.
ABS chief economist Bruce Hockman said the March, 2020 results represented “the slowest through-the-year growth since September 2009 when Australia was in the midst of the Global Financial Crisis”.
He warned it captures “just the beginning of the expected economic effects of COVID-19”.
“Spending on services fell significantly, particularly where restrictions impacted most severely, such as air transport services, hotels, cafes and restaurants, recreation and culture,” the analyst added.
“Spending on goods rose, most notably in food and pharmaceuticals, as households prepared for the introduction of restrictions”.
Net Trade contributed 0.5 percentage points to GDP, the government said, while imports of goods contracted 3.9pc.
Imports of services fell 13.6pc, the ABS added, with travel services collapsing when travel bans were introduced.
The household saving to income ratio rose to 5.5pc, reflecting a rise in gross disposable income and falls in consumption, the government added.