Thursday 25th June 2015 - 1:14 pm

Our anxieties “still rising”

by Alan Thornhill

Worries about costs – and job insecurity – made Australians more anxious between April and June, according to a new study.

These development are reflected in the results of the National Australia Bank’s quarterly Consumer Anxiety Index, which were published today.

The bank said consumer anxiety rose despite falling concerns over government policy after the federal budget.

“Cost of living pressures were the main cause of stress for Australian consumers, but worries over job security increased the most.” it said.

“More consumers are paying off debt and spending more on ‘essentials.'” the bank said.

But it added: “somewhat encouragingly, however, fewer consumers cut back their spending on “non-essentials.”

The bank’s Chief Economist Alan Oster said:”… consumers seem to have responded positively to the May federal budget.”

But he added:” cost of living pressures are now causing the greatest stress…”

“… but anxiety has increased most in relation to job security where stress levels are at their highest since early-2013,” Mr Oster said.

Other key findings included:-

* Overall anxiety increased most in Tasmania, which replaced Victoria as the most anxious state.

* There was a large increase in anxiety among divorced people, part time and professional workers.

* Divorced people overtook low income earners (under $35,000) in having the highest levels of overall anxiety.

* Anxiety was notably lower for young men (18-29), with this group now also reporting the lowest levels of overall anxiety (replacing widows).

* Stress levels for labourers and consumers living in Queensland were also notably lower.

Mr Oster said that – overall – consumers are still wary.

“More consumers are electing to pay off debt and are spending more on ‘essentials’ like health, transport, utilities and groceries,” he added.

Retirement funding and providing for the future are still the most worrying items in family finances.

“Somewhat encouragingly, however, fewer consumers cut back their spending on non-essentials such as travel, eating out, personal goods and major household items during the June quarter,” Mr Oster said.

He said that is consistent with a further slowing in the savings ratio.


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Alan Thornhill is a parliamentary press gallery journalist.
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