CONFIDENCE among South Australians to find a new job is at its lowest ebb since Bank SA began measuring consumer and business confidence, according to its latest survey.
The 61st Bank SA State Monitor also reveals that strengthening business optimism is not being matched by consumer sentiment — a trend not seen since before the global financial crisis.
The quarterly results, released today, reveal that business confidence in SA is at its highest level in three years, up by 5 points to 108.1 since the previous survey in July.
But consumer confidence fell during the same period by 5 points to 102, after holding steady or increasing in the previous two surveys. A score of 100 is considered neutral.
Ongoing concerns remain around unemployment with 37 per cent still worried, while confidence in the ability of respondents to find work should they, or someone in their household need to change jobs, was recorded at its lowest level since the survey began in 1997.
Bank SA chief executive Nick Reade said the divergence in business and consumer confidence was unusual and indicated that business optimism was not translating into consumer spending.
“Over the 20-odd years we have been doing this (survey), there’s only been a few periods where there’s been a breakout between the business and consumer confidence, typically it’s tracked in line,” he said.
“An example was before GFC where the business confidence was better and so it’s been nearly 10 years since we’re seeing what we’re seeing now … it’s starting to break away a little bit.
“What I think is going on here is businesses are feeling better, more upbeat, more confident, but they’re not necessarily converting that into anything consumers can see.
“We have got to call out to business to say now is the time to invest in your business and there is some help available.”
The desire of consumers to make a “major purchase” such as home renovation, car, or whitegoods, was also at its lowest level since 1997.
The State Monitor is conducted three times a year and based on a statewide survey of 300 consumers and 300 small business owners and managers.
Consumer sentiment fell sharply in the Upper Spencer Gulf, Far North and Eyre Peninsula regions — areas affected by uncertainty over the future of Arrium’s Whyalla and which were significantly impacted by last month’s statewide blackout.