Confidence in Upper Hunter Economy Softens

Confidence in the regional economy fell in the wake of declining performance in Upper Hunter businesses in the first half of 2019 – according to survey data of the Hunter Research Foundation (HRF) Centre.

The data were released at the Centre’s Upper Hunter Economic breakfast in Muswellbrook.

Source ~ Upper Hunter Region Economic Indicators – January to June, 2019. Hunter Research Foundation.

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 said.

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, the region continued 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 focussed on women in business in the Upper Hunter.

Dr Kirsten Molloy, CEO of the Hunter Valley Coal Chain Coordinator, joined Joplin Higgins of Joplin Lawyers and Claire Quigley of Launchpad9 to discuss their aspirations, challenges and successes.

Dr Bill presented HRF Centre data on the proportion of female-led businesses in the Upper Hunter and how they performed against their male-run counterparts.