Business confidence remains low across the Illawarra, Shoalhaven and Southern Highlands, according to the latest Business Conditions Survey, released by the state’s peak business organisation, the NSW Business Chamber.

Regional NSW remains the hardest hit when it comes to operating a business in the current economic climate, with confidence in the Illawarra reported as ‘below average’, and confidence in the Shoalhaven and Southern Highlands reported as ‘relatively weak’.
 
“Despite record low interest rates, a more competitive exchange rate and tax cuts – which may eventually boost growth – there are no clear signs that these policy changes are having an immediate impact,” said Adam Zarth, Executive Director of the Illawarra Business Chamber.
 
“Our broader region’s growth potential appears to be hampered by weak household demand. Population serving industries – in areas such as construction, retail, and food services – are among the weakest, in terms of reported confidence,” he said.
 
“Shortages of skilled staff are impacting business growth, according to 75 percent of businesses in the Illawarra and 44 percent in the Shoalhaven and Southern Highlands. Further, our members report initiating lower levels of capital spending than other parts of the state. Seventy percent of surveyed businesses in the Illawarra have not invested in the growth of their business in the previous quarter, which shows we are in something of a holding pattern,” said Mr Zarth.
 
The Illawarra has seen a slight lift in its unemployment rate to 5.3 percent, from a low of 4.7 percent at the end of the June 2019 quarter, a full percentage point above the state unemployment rate of 4.3 percent. Critically, the youth unemployment rate in the Illawarra is high at 12.1 percent, with the Shoalhaven and Southern Highlands at a concerning 20.5 percent, both rising markedly since the previous survey.
 
“Infrastructure investment is a very real way that we can stimulate the Illawarra economy. Commonwealth and State Government Treasurers, as well as Infrastructure Australia, are calling out for ‘shovel-ready’ infrastructure projects to stimulate the economy. Meanwhile, our region runs a very real risk of being disconnected from Greater Sydney in coming years. The growth and prosperity of economy will rely on our region successfully advocating for this vital infrastructure investment,” said Mr Zarth.

 
Media Contact: Adam Zarth (0404 146 829)