Friday, 1 March, 2019
Hunter business performance rebounded in December 2018 from the June quarter, according to data released at the Hunter Economic breakfast on 1 March.
The data came from the Hunter Research Foundation (HRF) Centre’s December 2018 Pulse survey. It also showed a slight improvement in consumer spending, bringing household consumption above the five-year average for December.
Dr Anthea Bill, HRF Centre’s lead economist, says business confidence rebounded slightly from the sharp drop recorded in June. Levels are now back to where they were 18 months ago.
“Household and business confidence in the regional economy over the long-term has weakened however,” Dr Bill cautioned. “In the short-term at least business performance appears to be trending above the national picture, where the sector lost some momentum over late 2018.”
Household spending in the Hunter also looks to be a bit better than the national picture. However, spending is well below pre-GFC averages. The fragile nature of the household sector is a key concern nationally, where low wage growth, high household debt and cooling house prices are likely to be impacting.
“The Hunter’s economy has a number of protective factors,” Dr Bill stated. “Factors include renewed activity in the region’s mining sector, a relatively strong labour market and, to date, a relatively robust housing market and construction pipeline.”
Dr Bill delivered her insights into the regional economy to an audience of 290 business, government and academic leaders at the Hunter Economic breakfast. They included analysis of the contribution of the arts and creative industries in regional economies, including Newcastle and the Hunter.