The National Australia Bank’s (NAB) Australian Consumer Anxiety index was released this morning showing a slight uptick in the first quarter of 2014 over the fourth quarter of 2013 rising to 61.7 from 61.5.
But the big story in the responses to the survey as the NAB points out is the increased anxiety amongst Australian over job security. The NAB reports:
Anxiety over job security continues to grow. Almost 37% rated their anxiety over job security “medium” or “high” (up from 33% in Q4 2013), while 36.5% rated it “very low” down from almost 40% in the last survey.
This increase in anxiety has been experienced across all levels of education in employment from those that did not finish high school all the way up to those with Bachelor or Post Graduate education.
So the anxiousness it is society-wide and while the survey also shows that cost of living pressures are still the No.1 concern of Australians the cumulative effect of cost of living pressure with job insecurity looks like it is taking a toll.
Commonwealth Bank Chief Economist Michael Blythe noted during the GFC that the fact that females were more concerned than men was a bad sign for the economy (given they generally hold control over family finances and spending) and so it is here in the NAB Anxiety index with females more concerned than men.
Why Australians feel this way after 22 years of uninterrupted economic growth is difficult to fathom and while some commentators blame the media for a negative take on the economy and on the reporting of the closures of Holden, Toyota and so on this survey suggests that concerns about the economy amongst the Australian Public run deeper than just ephemeral newspaper or website headlines.
The Reserve Bank would do well to use some of its vast intellectual capital to talk to the authors of the NAB’s Anxiety index and the Westpac Consumer Sentiment index and get some extra questions on the next few surveys.
If they can understand why Australians appear to be glass half empty in such a still solid growth environment they will go some way to putting the economy on a more sustainable footing.