20/07/2017 - 13:37

Signs of growth in WA economy

20/07/2017 - 13:37

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There are signs of recovery in the local economy, with employment and sales activity numbers showing improved performance in June and a major report predicting further recovery next year.

Retail stores also grew sales by 0.4 per cent across Australia, with overall spending having lifted by 0.7 per cent.

There are signs of recovery in the local economy, with employment and sales activity numbers showing improved performance in June and a major report predicting further recovery next year.

Unemployment in Western Australia fell by 0.1 percentage point last month to 5.6 per cent in trend terms, but was up by the same amount, to 5.6 per cent in seasonally adjusted terms, according to new data by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The national jobless rate was steady at 5.6 per cent on a seasonally adjusted basis.

WA also recorded the largest increase in the seasonally adjusted participation rate out of all other states with a 0.4 percentage point rise. A total of 6,900 more Western Australians found work during the month.

The stable results were backed by a Business Sales Indicator report by Commonwealth Bank of Australia, which revealed a 0.5 per cent increase in spending in the local economy last month, putting the state’s annual growth in sales up 8.1 per cent.

“Colder weather and end of season discounts have encouraged Aussies to upgrade their wardrobes, leading to an improved performance for the retail and clothing sectors,” CommSec chief economist Craig James said.

The report targeted 19 industry sectors, and found that all but one (vehicle sales) experienced a lift in sales, in trend terms, for the last month of the 2017 financial year across the country.

National sales at clothing stores rose by 1 per cent in June – the strongest gain in more than two years.

Retail stores also grew sales by 0.4 per cent across Australia, with overall spending having lifted by 0.7 per cent.

Coinciding with the ABS and CommSec reports was the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of WA’s latest Outlook report, which has optimistically foreshadowed a return to growth in business investment in WA by the 2019 financial year.

The report – a biannual analysis of WA’s economy – forecast a turnaround in business investment with 3 per cent growth during 2018-19.

CCIWA also foreshadowed a turnaround in state final demand, with a 1.6 per cent drop in 2017-18 to turn positive with 2.5 per cent growth during 2018-19.

But CCI chief economist Rick Newnham said for WA to have a fighting chance at recovery, the state government must not increase the rate of taxes, fees and levies applied to the business community in the upcoming budget.

“Business investment is a critical driver of economic prosperity; when business investment grows, it creates a domino effect throughout the economy, where more big construction projects come on line, more money comes into the economy and more jobs are created for WA workers,” Mr Newnham said.

“The only reason WA has avoided a recession is the growth in export income coming from completed mining projects. If you look at WA without exports, you can see that in the domestic economy, investment in business and the housing market have ground to a halt, and both the WA government and households have slowed down their spending.

“Export growth will be short lived, however, which is why the WA government needs to usher in a new era of business investment by not raising taxes, fees or levies on the business in the coming budget.”

Urban Development Institute of WA chief executive Allison Hailes said Perth’s property market would also benefit if CCIWA’s prediction was to hold true.

“These figures provide us with further confidence that a broader economic upturn is coming and that we will also see stabilisation and then a return to growth in the Perth property market,” she said.

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