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- July 2020

COVID-19 indicators for older people- August 2020

COVID-19 indicators for older people- November 2020

COVID-19 indicators for older people- February 2021

Highlights - February 2021

• This report uses data up to the December 2020 quarter (three months to December 2020).

• In the December 2020 quarter, 6.6% of people aged 65-74 said they did not have enough money to meet everyday needs, similar to the overall average of 7.6%.

• Over the same period, 3.3% of those aged 65-74 and 1.0% 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 December quarter saw decreases from the September 2020 quarter. The underutilisation rate remains slightly elevated at 7.8% (compared to 7.2% in the March 2020 quarter) but has decreased since the September quarter. Substantial differences in underutilisation of women aged 50+ (9.5%) as compared to men (6.3%) remain.

• The total number aged 50+ on Jobseeker Support Work Ready (JSWR) increased to 27,663 in December 2020. This remains substantially higher than the 18,177 JSWR recipients in February 2020 (prior to lockdown). The number receiving the COVID-19 Income Relief Payment fell to 894 in December 2020.

• Loneliness and discrimination levels have not changed significantly since the last report. The proportion of people aged 75+ who feel lonely at least some of the time was 16.3% in the December 2020 quarter (compared to 12.3% in 2018, but this difference is not statistically significant). The proportion of people aged 65-74 who have experienced discrimination in the last 12 months was 12.5% in the December 2020 quarter (still significantly higher than the 7.7% recorded in 2018). Differences between older men and older women are no longer statistically significant.

• Many stakeholders report that they and their clients have “recovered” from the impacts of COVID-19, although those operating in Auckland report still being in “recovery mode”. Stakeholders report that a minority of older people continue to struggle.