The latest Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA Regional Pulse report shows that a year on from the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic most regional businesses in Western Australia are predicting stronger conditions ahead, despite lingering concerns.
Almost three out of five (56%) regional businesses anticipate conditions to strengthen over the next twelve months, while only 16 per cent expect them to worsen.
Among the key indicators of better times for WA business, more than one out of two surveyed are planning to ramp up production over the next three months, with the strongest sentiment in the Mid-West/Gascoyne (61%), Wheatbelt (55%) and Pilbara (52%). This likely mirrors expectations of continued strong demand for Western Australian mineral commodities, such as iron ore and gold over the coming months. Production expectations for businesses in the Mid-West/Gascoyne were assessed before the onset of the recent cyclone.
More than a third of businesses have also been hiring over the past three months.
However, three out of five (59%) Western Australian regional businesses identified that they are struggling to fill at least one skilled vacancy. This includes the majority of businesses in the Mid-West/Gascoyne (78%), Goldfields-Esperance (68%) and Pilbara (66%). The most in demand occupations include hospitality workers, mechanics, and truck drivers.
The pandemic is still weighing heavily on some sectors and regions despite significant government stimulus and the progressive reopening of the domestic economy. Almost half (46%) of businesses in regional WA reported a decline in profitability over the past three months, compared to 36 per cent in Perth and Peel.
Download the full report here.