Australians have become increasingly worried about job security as the economy shows signs of slowing down.
But, cost of living still remains the most pressing concern in the National Australia Bank’s consumer anxiety survey for the December quarter.
Job security fears had grown, with Holden’s announcement late last year that it would cease making cars in Australia from the end of 2017 adding to the gloom. Consumer anxiety increased the most and was highest in Victoria, a car and components manufacturing state, the survey found.
“It probably was because what we saw in terms of people being concerned on the jobs front was a bit of an increase in Victoria,” NAB chief economist Alan Oster said.
Nationally, worries about job security rose with 47.8 per cent nominating it as an issue during the final three months of 2013, compared with 45 per cent during the September quarter as Australia’s jobless rate rose to 5.8 per cent.
“We continue to think that with an economy not performing that well … by the end of this year (unemployment) will be something like 6.5 per cent,” Mr Oster said.
Anxiety about becoming unemployed was a high priority concern for 15.9 per cent of respondents, compared with 13.4 per cent during the previous quarter.
NAB’s consumer anxiety reading, based on a survey of 2,100 people, rose by 0.4 percentage points to 61.5.
Cost of living concerns, however, had reduced with 69.7 per cent of respondents nominating it as an issue during the December quarter, compared with 71.6 per cent during the preceding period.
Utility bills and the cost of child education were major concerns, but consumers were unfazed about the cost of travel, entertainment and “keeping up with the Joneses”.