Hunter businesses are optimistic about the year ahead based on the positive result recorded inthe latest Business Conditions Survey conducted by theNSW Business Chamber.
The Hunter Business Chamber Chief Executive Officer, Bob Hawes said the results of the survey demonstrate conditions are strong and business confidence is high on the back ofperceived strength in the state and regional economies.
“In the last three months of 2017, 80% of Hunter businesses surveyed experienced stable or a total increase in revenue,” Bob said.
“Almost 75% of respondents recorded stable or an increase in profit over the same period whichisencouraging news.
“Business confidence continues to improve and locally this is being driven by events such as the construction boom in parts of the region, the recovery in the mining sector following improved commodity process, the activity around large scale development projects such as the investment going into RAAF base Williamtown and continuing low interest rates.”
Bob said that compared to other parts of New South Wales, Hunter businesses are expecting stronger conditions across most economic indicators including growth in capital spending, sales revenue, profit and staff numbers.
“Almost 80% of the businesses surveyed in the Hunter expect profits to remain steady or growover the short term,” Bob said.
“Of businesses surveyed, 59% hired new staff between October and December with two thirds of these being for new positions rather than replacement positions. This is consistent with recent reports of employment trends and improvement across the region.
“Despite the tightening labor market, firms were reporting they do have access to suitably qualified staff which otherwise could be a serious handbrake on growth ambitions in the future.
The survey also indicated that cost pressures remain a concern for businesses, with inefficiency and unproductive work, record high-energy costs, and general operating costs the top three targets for business to reduce expenses.
“It seems the energy cost and supply issues still weigh heavily on business with the item leaping from the fifth to the second most prevalent matter noted over the last 12 months. We’re not seeing a response from government that satisfies business despite the initiatives,” Bob said.