Updated Sep 2, 2020 - Economy & Business

Australia plunges into first recession in 30 years

Workers push trolleys past an empty shop in Melbournes central business district on August 3
An empty store in Melbourne, the coronavirus epicenter of Australia, which has been on lockdown since the start of last month. Photo: William West/AFP via Getty Images

Australia's GDP shrank by a record 7% in the June quarter following a fall of 0.3% in the March quarter, official government agency the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) confirmed on Wednesday.

Why it matters: The data means Australia has entered its first recession in nearly 30 years, driven by a major coronavirus outbreak in its second-most populous state, Victoria, where restrictions have been imposed since last month.

  • Michael Smedes, head of National Accounts at the ABS, Michael Smedes said in a statement on the GDP fall for the June quarter, "This is, by a wide margin, the largest fall in quarterly GDP since records began in 1959."
  • Smedes attributed the GDP plunge to the pandemic and "associated containment policies."

By the numbers: Household spending fell 12.1% for the 2019/20 financial year — "the first annual fall in recorded history," the ABS notes.

  • Savings increased from 6% to 19.8% — the highest rate since since 1974.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

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