Upper Hunter recovery slows

Filed under Hunter Valley, News, Science & Research ~ by Press on  9 Apr 2019

In December, Upper Hunter business and household expectations for the local economy continued to decline from their 2017 high, according to latest analysis by Hunter Research Foundation (HRF).

Dr Anthea Bill, lead economist for HRF Centre, says that more Upper Hunter businesses are reporting that their performance is improving than declining, but cautions that a smaller share are reporting improved performance compared to 12 months ago. 

Business performance, confidence and expectations of the local economy are still positive and above 2014 lows, but there is growing uncertainty.

Evidence suggests a slowing labour market, following the rapid about-turn and growth spurt that started in 2015.

On the positive side, the region continues to exhibit low rates of unemployment, a strengthening construction pipeline, and a relatively robust housing market, particularly in Singleton,” she said.  

Dr Bill explained that the Centre’s Pulse surveys show that, to some degree at least, the dampening of expectations for the Hunter economy amongst households and businesses in the Upper Hunter is ‘in synch’ with the Hunter region more broadly. It also aligns with business and consumer sentiment nationwide.

Unlike the broader region or the state, employment numbers fell from June 2018 to February 2019. There were 3,300 jobs lost (3-month moving average) in the Hunter Balance* over this period, according to the ABS Labour Force survey.

The Upper Hunter economic breakfast also featured a presentation on global energy trends and the likely trajectory for Hunter coal exports. Tony Wood, Energy Program Director for the Grattan Institute, tackled demand for coal from Australia’s major trading partners in the context of climate change policies and the rise of renewable energy technology.

  *See the UHREI for a definition of the ‘Hunter Balance’ geography.

The national economy exhibits increasing uncertainty, as GDP slowed further in December and per-capita as fallen for two consecutive quarters. Of concern, downside risks accumulate in international markets.

The event and the Upper Hunter Region Economic Indicators research program are supported by Bengalla Mining Company.

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