Consumer anxiety rose sharply in response to spending cuts and tax hikes announced in the federal budget, with women, low income earners and families hit the hardest.
Consumer anxiety jumped in the four weeks immediately after the May 13 budget was released.
The National Australia Bank consumer anxiety index rose almost three points to 64.5 in the June quarter – the highest level since the survey began 18 months ago.
The main causes for consumer concern were government policy in the wake of the budget as well as cost of living pressures, NAB economists said.
“The May federal budget has clearly impacted consumer anxiety,” the report said.
According to the report, consumers expect the budget to impact their overall financial position, savings, investments and spending along with access to government benefits.
Anxiety was lowest in Tasmania and highest in Victoria but rose most in Western Australia, as their economy copes with the wind down in mining investment.
Women were more anxious than men, while low income earners, the unemployed and families with children also had higher rates of anxiety.
“NAB’s survey indicates that on average the biggest budget impact is expected to be felt by females aged 18-29 followed by families with children and those earning less than $35,000,” NAB said.
“This may reflect a number of budget measures which could impact families, low income earners and young people.
“These included tightening eligibility criteria for family tax benefits and stricter eligibility rules for unemployment benefits and Newstart youth allowances among some of the key areas of government savings.”