Hunter Outlook Steady

Filed under News, Science & Research ~ by Press on  28 Feb 2019

Regional economy robust at least for the short-term  .

Hunter business performance rebounded in December 2018 from the June quarter, according to the latest data from the Hunter Research Foundation (HRF) Centre Pulse.

The data also show a slight improvement in consumer spending, bringing household consumption above the five-year average for December.

Dr Anthea Bill, HRF Centre’s lead economist, says business confidence rebounded slightly from the sharp drop recorded in June. Levels are now back to where they were 18 months ago.

Household and business confidence in the regional economy over the long-term has weakened however,” Dr Bill cautioned. “In the short-term at least business performance appears to be trending above the national picture, where the sector lost some momentum over late 2018.”

Household spending in the Hunter also looks to be a bit better than the national picture. However, spending is well below pre-GFC averages.

The fragile nature of the household sector is a key concern nationally, where low wage growth, high household debt and cooling house prices are likely to be impacting.

The Hunter’s economy has a number of protective factors,” Dr Bill said.

Factors include renewed activity in the region’s mining sector, a relatively strong labour market and, to date, a relatively robust housing market and construction pipeline.”

Dr Bill delivered her insights into the regional economy at the Hunter Economic breakfast on Friday [1 March 2019]. They include analysis of the contribution of the arts and creative industries in regional economies, including Newcastle and the Hunter.

The Hon. David Bartlett, former Tasmanian Premier, spoke on the ‘MONA effect,’ how the 2011 opening of the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) came abou, and what effect it had on Tasmania’s economy. It provides lessons for Newcastle and the Hunter region.

Place-making expert and author, Andrew Hoyne, spoke at the breakfast. He produced The Place Economy, a resource book on effective place-making and branding that illustrates how such efforts can lead to greater profits for developers and investors, economies that perform better, and communities that are happier and healthier.

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