Business confidence in the Northern Rivers has dropped significantly over the past 12 months, a survey by the NSW Business Chamber shows.
The chamber’s quarterly economic snapshot shows that business confidence in the region fell six points in the 12 months to December last year.
Jane Laverty, the chamber’s regional manager for this region, said this was part of a state-wide decline.
‘We put this sentiment down to businesses facing tougher trading conditions as the NSW economy faces headwinds from international markets, volatility in the housing sector and rising operating costs,’ Mrs Laverty said.
‘…the challenge for the next Government of NSW is to keep the state moving forward.’
The Northern Rivers was one of just five regions across the state to experience an overall fall in business confidence during the course of last year.
Business confidence either increased or remained stable in the state’s other 10 regions.
‘A quick glance at results for the Northern Rivers suggests we are doing better than the State average (for the December quarter only), and certainly a nice increase in confidence in the Clarence Valley,’ Mrs Laverty said.
‘However it is clear that confidence is still fairly soft and much lower than what we have seen over the last few years at the same time of year.’
Rebecca Asquith, the owner of a local digital media business said her company had felt a dip at the end of 2018 with less bookings from new clients.
‘We really need business confidence to remain steady and increase as we move through 2019, and it will be government policies that contribute to this,’ Ms Asquith said.
‘With the State election now less than two months away, it is vital that those parties looking to form the next Government understand the true nature of current business conditions and just how important it is to have policies that assist business to invest and create new jobs.’
The snapshot also indicates that unemployment in the Northern Rivers sits at 5.1 per cent – slightly above the state average of 4.4 per cent – with youth unemployment in the region remaining high at just under 10 per cent.