Australians less confident about their financial future than ever before

Consumer confidence has fallen 9% since March and a whopping 26% since November last year, according to a new survey of 1500 Australians conducted by Telstra’s Sensis subsidiary.

The soaring cost of living – primarily due to higher fuel costs, food prices and mortgage repayments – is weighing heavily on consumers, with 22% expressing concern about their financial future and 57% reporting they are confident about their finances.

Consumer confidence is weakest among Australians in their 30s, many of whom would not remember the last deep recession in 1990-91. The confidence of this group sits at 21%, with 28% worried and 49% confident.

The longer-term outlook among consumers is also shaky; more than 40% believe the economy will be worse off in a year’s time, while less than 20% believe it will improve.

Report author Christena Singh says Australians rank the cost of living as their number one concern, with a score of 7.67 out of a possible 10. The price of petrol is the next most pressing concern at 7.64. The drought (7.46), the environment (7.43) and the health system (7.30) are the next big concerns for Australians. “Over the past 12 months, we have seen Australians’ concerns move from more social issues to their hip pockets,” Singh says.

A day after the Rudd Government released its new employment standards, the Sensis report also notes how comfortable consumers are with the Government’s new workplace relations regime. Twelve per cent of Australians feel the proposed system will have a negative impact on them, 21% feel it will have a positive impact, and 67% believe it will have no real impact either way.

“This is the first time attitudes towards the workplace relations system have been in positive territory with consumers,” Singh says. “This contrasts with the current opinions of small businesses, which are convincingly negative.”


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