Cost crisis starts to bite the regions

Rising costs continue to hurt regional businesses, denting confidence and stifling optimism, according to a CCIWA report. 

Regional Pulse breaks down key results from CCIWA’s quarterly Business Confidence report, providing insights into the conditions facing businesses in WA’s regional centres. 

The report found fewer regional businesses were optimistic about the short- and long-term outlook in the December quarter than in the previous corresponding period. They are also more pessimistic than those in the Perth-Peel region. 

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Only about three in 10 (28%) businesses expect conditions to improve in the next three months, down four percentage points since September. Just over 32% expect conditions to weaken while 40% believe they will be unchanged. 

Businesses in the Pilbara are the most optimistic, with 62% expecting short-term conditions to improve. 

In contrast, businesses in the Kimberley are the most downbeat, with only 17% expecting stronger conditions over the next three months. 

“This is likely reflecting the decline in economic activity over the wet season and ongoing challenges in attracting labour,” says Aaron Morey, CCIWA Chief Economist. 

Labour shortages remain a significant challenge in the regions, with almost 70% of businesses reporting the availability of skilled labour as a barrier to growth, up three percentage points since the September quarter. This is most prevalent in the Pilbara, where 81% of businesses report it as a barrier, and the Kimberley, where 74% say it is a challenge. 

“Right across the regions were seeing skills shortages in a range of areas, including technicians and trades, electricians, mechanics, construction workers and salespeople,” Morey says. 

CCIWA’s Economic reports, including Regional Pulse, are available on CCIWA’s Economic Insight page.   

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