The 12-month outlook for Hunter business confidence in June 2014 dropped to its lowest point since the Global Financial Crisis, according to the latest Hunter Valley Research Foundation (HVRF) economic indicators.
Senior HVRF researcher Anthea Bill, who spoke at the Foundation’s economic breakfast this morning, said that although Hunter business performance expectations remain in positive territory on balance, the index continued to decline in June 2014.
“The business outlook for the regional economy has declined. This is not surprising given consumer demand remains weak and the labour market is soft and may weaken further before the regional economy recovers,” Anthea said.
The HVRF’s economic outlook predicts that in the near term, the risks of reduced demand for Hunter exports, and of fiscal consolidation, may outweigh the stimulus of new infrastructure investment, possible improvements in residential construction and efforts to increase productivity.
The indicators also found that information and communication technologies are integral to the economy and society, however only 57 per cent of Hunter businesses report having a dedicated website, compared to 64 per cent of small businesses nationally. A number of factors were stated for not having a website, the key reasons including a lack of time and resources, uncertainty as to the benefits to business and a lack of knowledge and expertise.
Those respondents who indicated they wanted to improve their knowledge indicated that they would like to know more about marketing via social networks (30%), developing a presence online (26%) and accepting online payments (21%).
At the breakfast the HVRF also released results from its June 2014 survey into Hunter businesses’ use of information and communication technologies and hosted a panel discussion on the digital economy.