Google data suggests that Australians have been searching for relief from their regular payments, such as mortgages and rental payments, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
As the government has reminded us time and time again, the COVID-19 pandemic is as much an economic crisis for Australians as it is a health one.
However, with the introduction first of strict social distancing requirements, and then the introduction of tighter restrictions and a national lockdown, many businesses and individuals have now felt the economic hit.
In such trying times, where we have seen hundreds of thousands of workers losing their jobs and incomes overnight, Google Trends have highlighted the issues that have most often plagued the minds of Australians, largely related to their regular payments, such as mortgages and rent.
According to Google, searches for the term “mortgage deferral” have increased by 3,150 per cent in the last seven days alone, as have searches for the term “interest capitalised meaning”, as home owners try to make sense of their bank’s mortgage freeze policy.
Searches relating to “rent relief” have shot up by 2,750 per cent in the same period, while the number of times the question “will rent be frozen due to coronavirus?” has been asked has skyrocketed by 4,100 per cent in the last seven days.
Meanwhile, the search term “landlord insurance” also spiked by 500 per cent in the last seven days, with common related searches including “does landlord insurance cover loss of rent” and “loss of rent insurance”, suggesting that tenants have announced they will struggle to pay.
In an attempt to counteract the economic impact of the spread of the virus, and the measures required to limit its spread, the federal government has revealed a number of stimulus packages targeted towards small businesses and people currently receiving welfare payments.
Additionally, data suggests that by 2.30pm on Wednesday, 25 March, alone, 280,000 Australians had requested financial support from Centrelink, after losing jobs and income in the previous days.
As such, “coronavirus supplements” was the third most Googled term in Australia this week, shooting up by 2,850 per cent in the last week, while “jobseeker payment” came in at number five.
Both the “jobseeker payment” and “coronavirus supplement” search terms spiked to their peak on the morning of 22 March, following the announcement by Prime Minister Scott Morrison that Australia would be entering into a Stage 1 lockdown, resulting in the closure of all pubs, gyms, bars and restaurants, which sent countless numbers of casual staff out of work.