17/03/2009 - 06:33

WA most concerned over state of economy

17/03/2009 - 06:33

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Western Australians are most likely to be concerned about the state of the economy than other states or territories, according to the Sensis Consumer Report released today.

WA most concerned over state of economy

Western Australians are most likely to be concerned about the state of the economy than other states or territories, according to the Sensis Consumer Report released today.

The report, which interviewed 1,500 Australians nationwide from February 3 to 28 this year, provides an analysis of the issues that concern the nation, as well as insights into the Australian lifestyle.

Report author Christena Singh said Australians in general have heightened concerns about the state of the economy, particularly in WA, while concerns about unemployment rose more than any other issue over the past three months.

And while the nation is also increasingly concerned about the drought and the environment, the report found people are now less willing to pay for an emissions trading scheme.

Concerns about unemployment have risen by 0.84 over the quarter, taking the concern level to 7.37 out of a possible 10.

"Unemployment is now Australia's sixth most pressing concern, having risen from the lowest concern at 5.01 just 12 months ago," Ms Singh said.

Concerns about unemployment are more strongly felt in Victoria (7.10) and weakest in the Northern Territory (6.06).

Overall, Australians are most worried about the drought, with concerns rising by 0.13 during the quarter to 7.51.

Victorians (8.53) have the highest level of concerns about the drought, while Northern Territorians (6.54) are least concerned. The drought is the major concern for residents of Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory.

The state of the economy and the environment come in at equal second, with a concern level of 7.37.

Concerns about the state of the economy have risen 0.25 in the past quarter and 1.20 over the last 12 months.

West Australians are most likely to be concerned about the nation's economy (7.57), while Northern Territorians have the lowest levels of concern (6.67).

The environment as an issue has risen .09 over the quarter, remaining relatively consistent over the last 12 months. Women are much more likely to be concerned about the environment (7.71) than men (7.01).

Despite strong levels of concern about the drought and the environment, Australians are less willing to pay more for energy costs under the federal government's proposed carbon pollution reduction scheme, with 55 per cent of Australians are now prepared to pay more for energy costs under the scheme, down 5 percentage points from last quarter.

For those willing to pay more for energy, the average amount is $160 a year (a fall from $169 a year last quarter). Western Australians ($217) are willing to spend the most on additional energy costs and Queenslanders ($119) the least.

"Overwhelmingly Australians believe petrol should be included in the carbon pollution reduction scheme," Ms Singh noted.

"However, support for the inclusion of petrol in the scheme has also weakened over the quarter."

Seventy-eight per cent of Australians said they would like petrol included in a carbon pollution reduction scheme, down 4 percentage points over the quarter.

The March Sensis Consumer Report also confirms consumer confidence has fallen to the lowest level on record, with a 6 percentage point drop over the quarter to 21 per cent.

Overall, 51 per cent of Australians are confident about their prospects for the year ahead, while 30 per cent are worried.

Putting the figures into context, Ms Singh noted that consumer confidence had more than halved over the last 12 months though having a secure job is the main reason most Australians feel confident about their financial prospects for the year ahead.

"Having a secure job has grown in relative importance over the past quarter. In fact, this is the fourth successive quarter where job security has been considered more important than the quality of the job," she said.

The increasing level of unemployment is the main reason Australians feel worried about their financial prospects in the coming year.

 

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