COVID-19 and older New Zealanders

New Zealanders of all ages were affected by increasing border restrictions and self-isolation requirements to limit the spread of COVID-19.

These restrictions have had both social and economic consequences. To track the impacts of COVID-19 on older people aged 65 years and over (65+) and older workers aged 50 years and over (50+) we are monitoring a small set of key short-term indicators.

COVID-19 indicators for older people- 14 July 2020

COVID-19 indicators for older people- August 2020

COVID-19 indicators for older people- November 2020

Highlights - November 2020

• This report uses data available up to 30 November 2020. Most of the data relates to the September 2020 quarter (three months to September 2020).

• In the September 2020 quarter, 6.3% of people aged 65-74 said they did not have enough money to meet everyday needs, similar to the overall average of 7.2%.

• Over the same period, 3.6% of those aged 65-74 and 3.3% of those aged 75+ said they had received help from an organisation or foodbank in the last 12 months.

• The unemployment and underutilisation rates for older workers aged 50+ in the September quarter were not significantly different to the June 2020 quarter. The underutilisation rate remains high at 8.7% (compared to 7.2% in the March 2020 quarter). Substantial differences in underutilisation of women aged 50+ (11.1%) as compared to men (6.7%) remain.

• Numbers on Jobseeker Support (JS) and other main benefits have increased. At the end of October, 26,771 people aged 50+ were receiving JS Work Ready and 2,625 were receiving the COVID-19 Income Relief Payment.

• Loneliness and discrimination levels have not changed significantly since the last report but remain elevated. The proportion of people aged 75+ who feel lonely at least some of the time was 21.0% in the September 2020 quarter (compared to 12.3% in 2018). As in previous reports, these indicators are substantially higher for older women than older men.

• In general, European* ethnicities appear to be faring better than other ethnicities, experiencing lower unemployment and underutilisation rates and less likely to report that they do not have enough money.

• The consensus among stakeholders was that older people doing well before the pandemic generally continued to do well, while anyone struggling or close to struggling before the pandemic continued to struggle.