Anxiety levels creep up, as Aussies worry about job security and cost of living

Victorians are now considered the nation’s most anxious people, as the struggling manufacturing and automotive sectors have caused concerns over job security.

Consumer anxiety rose slightly in the last quarter, up to 61.5 on NAB’s quarterly Australian Consumer Anxiety Index, indicating “moderate” levels of worry.

Cost of living remained the nation’s highest concern, with utility bills, education and housing costs the driving factors.

NAB chief economist Alan Oster told SmartCompany people are most worried about non-discretionary items.

“Things like entertainment, travel and holiday costs weren’t a problem for people, but utility bills, education and housing is a concern because these are things you can’t do without,” he says.

“Some economists and media reports suggest the cost of living is low, but Consumer Price Index figures don’t include the top 15% of increases and the bottom 15% of decreases in costs, this means as energy prices have sky-rocketed it hasn’t been included in the figures.”

Around 34% of respondents ranked cost of living has a “high” anxiety, while only 15% of Australians rated it “very low”.

Victoria and Western Australia recorded the highest increases in anxiety, while it fell in all other states.

People earning less than $35,000 were the most anxious overall, while those earning above $100,000 were significantly less concerned, recording the lowest anxiety rates in the country.

Oster says there was also a difference between men and women, with females more worried about job security, health and superannuation.

“They’re particularly worried about not having enough money to retire,” Oster says.

Overall, the number of Australians reporting the ability to fund retirement as a “high” anxiety increased in the last quarter from 26.6% to 28.8%.

Women between the ages of 18-29 and 40-49 drove the anxiety levels, while women above 50 reported anxiety as being largely unchanged.

“Overall wellbeing results showed if you had a high level of wellbeing the things concerning you most were personal relationships and if you had a low level of wellbeing, financial issues and health issues ranked most highly,” Oster says.

The index first began being recorded twelve months ago and within that time the highest nationwide anxiety rating was recorded in the March last year at 62.9 out of 100.

Oster says a moderate overall level of anxiety is still at the low end of the spectrum.

“It rose a bit this time mainly because people got concerned over job security. Job security rose from 45 to 47.8 on the index, the highest rating we’ve had. This is driven by WA and Victoria. The west is getting more nervous because it’s at the end of the employment phase of the mining boom.”

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