Anxiety In Australian Households Is At A New High And It Could Be The Most Important Force In The Economy

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Anxiety is at a new high in Australian homes as people worry about the cost of living, whether they can get good health care and whether they can keep their jobs.

The NAB Australian Wellbeing Index fell slightly to 63 points in the December quarter from 63.8.

The index adds to the series of recent indicators showing confidence and sentiment is low among Australian consumers and business.

Source: NAB

Australia is in the middle of a transition from a mining investment led economy, which is seeing a resetting of economic fortunes for some areas.

And the Federal budget, which has failed to reverse the spreading red ink of a growing government deficit, has also been named as a key detractor of business confidence.

On top of that, there is a confidence-sapping political deadlock in the Senate which has prevented the government implementing key savings and reforms.

The NAB survey found that wellbeing rated highest in Queensland and lowest in Victoria.

Source: NAB

Women aged over 50 now have the highest wellbeing across all demographics and young women aged 18 to 29 have the lowest, far lower than young men.

The NAB also releases an annual pulse check on the big issues facing Australia today.

The cost of living is clearly the most prominent issue even following a period of rapidly falling fuel prices, estimated to be worth around $624 to the average household each year. Others are: access to healthcare; employment and jobs; the economy; and terrorism/security.

Concerns over indigenous issues, infrastructure and transport and taxation are lowest.

“Anxiety is still the biggest detractor of personal wellbeing for a significant proportion of Australians, with around 38% rating their anxiety levels as ‘very high’,” says NAB Chief Economist Alan Oster.

There are also notable differences across demographics in terms of the relative importance of each issue.

“Cost of living is a significantly bigger issue in Tasmania,” Oster says. “Employment and jobs are also bigger issues in Tasmania, Victoria and SA/NT where unemployment rates have also been among the highest in the country.”

Australians living in Western Australia are most concerned about terrorism/security. Victorians see law and order as a much bigger issue than in all other states.

By gender, women nominated cost of living, access to healthcare and an ageing population as much bigger issues than did men.

Men identified the economy and terrorism/security as more important concerns.

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