Monday, 23 September, 2019


Confidence in the regional economy fell in the wake of declining performance in Upper Hunter businesses in the first half of 2019. That is according to survey data of the HRF Centre. The data were released at the Centre’s Upper Hunter Economic breakfast in Muswellbrook on 11 September.

Dr Anthea Bill, lead economist for HRF Centre, explained that Upper Hunter businesses reported that, on average, last quarter’s forward orders had declined.

“Significantly fewer Upper Hunter businesses are now reporting that their performance, on balance, is improving compared to a year ago,” Dr Bill stated. “Business performance deteriorated over 2018 following a December 2017 high, when performance was back at pre-GFC levels.”

Both business and household confidence in the local economy over the next 12 months fell sharply in the first half of 2019, the survey figures show. Likely drivers of this uncertainty are a softening in global growth projections and a declining trend in thermal coal prices during 2019. This dampening of confidence is shared with the Hunter region and the nation more broadly.

On the positive side, Dr Bill says that the region continues to exhibit low rates of unemployment, employment growth has been strong, and the housing approval pipeline remains robust, particularly in Singleton and Muswellbrook.

The Upper Hunter economic breakfast also focused on women in business. Encouraging data on the proportion of female-led businesses in the Upper Hunter and how they perform against their male-run counterparts was presented by Dr Bill. This HRF Centre data is included in the Upper Hunter Region Economic Indicators publication, which was released at the breakfast.