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Economic issues ‘Unemployment’ and ‘The Economy’ top the list of concerns for Australians in mid-2017

Source: Roy Morgan interviewed a representative cross-section of 648 Australians in May 2017.
In mid-2017, 38% of Australians believe the economy or some kind of economic issue to be the most important problem facing Australia. This is 3% higher than in March 2017 although down 4% compared to a year ago in mid-2016.

Economic issues were mentioned by more Australians than the next three sets of issues combined. 13% mentioned Religion, Immigration and Human Rights issues; 12% mentioned Government, Politics and Leadership issues; 10% mentioned Climate change or another Environmental issue and 10% mentioned a Social issue like Education, Crime, Drugs and drug abuse and Welfare.

The overall picture was covered extensively in our release on broader Australian Concerns released a fortnight ago and available to view here. We look here at economic concerns in greater detail.


Australian Economic Issues dominated by Unemployment, Economy & Housing

Within the group of Economic & Financial issues the most important issues are:

  • Unemployment mentioned by 9% of respondents: Unemployment verbatim comments ranged from the simple lack of jobs and jobs available, the lack of employment opportunities available for younger people, to the problems with immigration impacting on availability of jobs and the threat posed by robots to manufacturing jobs.

  • The Economy in general and Interest rates mentioned by 8% of respondents: Verbatim comments about this theme were centred around concerns about the Australian economy with the high debt and deficit a recurring theme, general economic problems, the lack of industries in Australia and the way the Australian economy depends on global economic conditions; and

  • Housing affordability which was mentioned by 6% of respondents: Housing affordability verbatim comments referred to the soaring house prices and the growing gap between ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ as well as the overseas buyers pushing up prices in the housing market.


Most Important Economic Problems Facing Australia

Most Important Economic Problems Facing Australia - May 2017Source: Roy Morgan interviewed a representative cross-section of 648 Australians in May 2017.

Other Economic issues mentioned by 2% - 4% of respondents included Poverty and the gap between rich and poor on 4%, Cost of living, rising prices and inflation on 2%, Federal Budget on 2% and Homelessness and lack of housing on 2%.

Some 6% of respondents gave a broad range of economically related issues including General taxation, Banks and Bank interest rates, Financial or money problems, General Infrastructure: Energy, Water, Internet etc., Globalisation and fairer world trade, Over-population, Over-reliance on Mining industry and the impact of mining and Farming, cut food imports and support our farmers. None of these issues were mentioned by more than around 1% of people.


Analysis of Economic Concerns by Voting intention

Analysing the question by Federal voting intention shows a very different pattern of concerns for the different party supporters. First 49% of L-NP supporters nominate an Economic issue as the biggest problem facing Australia – clearly higher than the national average while ALP supporters (39%) are almost in line with the broader community and only 24% of Greens supporters nominate Economic issues as the most important problems facing Australia.

L-NP supporters clearly regard The Economy in general and Interest rates (15%) as the biggest problem facing Australia ahead of Unemployment (12%) and Housing affordability (5%).

ALP supporters regard Unemployment (10%) as the biggest problem ahead of Housing affordability (7%) and are evenly split on the third most important problem with 4% nominating The Economy in general and interest rates, Cost of living, rising prices and inflation, Poverty and the gap between rich and poor and the Federal Budget.

In contrast to supporters of the two larger parties Greens supporters easily regard Poverty and the gap between rich and poor as the most important Economic issue facing Australia (11%) more than double the response for Unemployment (5%) and Housing affordability (4%).


Most Important Problem Facing Australia – Economic Issues by Voting Intention

May
2017

VOTING INTENTION

L-NP

ALP

GREENS

IND/OTH

CAN’T SAY

%

%

%

%

%

%

Unemployment

8.8

11.7

9.8

4.8

4.9

16.3

The Economy in general and Interest rates

7.5

14.6

3.6

-

9.0

1.3

Housing affordability

5.8

5.1

7.1

4.1

7.6

5.6

Poverty and the gap between rich and poor

3.7

2.0

4.3

10.8

4.0

1.3

Cost of living, rising prices and inflation

2.1

2.0

4.4

-

-

-

Federal Budget

2.1

3.7

1.4

-

4.7

-

Homelessness and lack of housing

1.9

0.8

3.3

0.5

1.6

4.5

Total Other Economic Issues

6.0

9.0

5.3

4.1

4.7

1.8

Comprising of the below:

General taxation – Mining tax, Resource tax etc.

1.4

2.5

1.6

-

1.0

-

General infrastructure: Energy, Water, Internet etc.

1.3

1.0

1.2

3.0

1.3

-

Over-reliance on mining and the impact of mining

1.3

2.3

0.4

1.1

-

1.8

Over-population

0.6

0.4

0.6

-

2.4

-

Globalisation and fairer world trade

0.5

1.0

-

-

-

-

Financial or money problems

0.4

0.5

0.7

-

-

-

Banks and Bank interest rates

0.3

0.4

0.8

-

-

-

Farming, cut food imports and support our farmers

0.3

0.9

-

-

-

-

TOTAL ECONOMIC/ FINANCIAL ISSUES

37.9

49.0

39.1

24.3

36.4

30.7


Unemployment verbatim comments ranged from the simple lack of jobs and jobs available, the lack of employment opportunities available for younger people to the problems with immigration impacting on availability of jobs and the threat posed by robots to manufacturing jobs.


L-NP supporters on Unemployment

The 11.7% of L-NP supporters who mentioned unemployment were most likely to bring up jobs going to folks from overseas, and Australia’s immigration costing locals jobs as well as the regional impacts of a lack of jobs along with more general commentary about the problem of unemployment.

“Not having enough jobs for Australians and giving away jobs to other countries”

“Employment – more needs to be done for the Australian people, we need to stop employing foreign workers and start employing more Australian workers”

“Not having enough jobs for Australians and too much immigration”

“Every State has probably got the same problem, ie. Jobs”

“Jobs I suppose – unemployment”

“Job stability”

“Unemployment – percentage of unemployed and jobs available”

“Unemployment and under-employment. The rise of casual employment is a problem and high unemployment in regional areas”

“Unemployment – there’s a large number of people in Centrelink and we have an ageing population”

“Downsizing in manufacturing and employment”

“The lack of work for people”


ALP supporters on Unemployment

The 9.8% of ALP supporters who mentioned unemployment brought up the decline in Australia’s manufacturing industry and referenced problems facing Australia’s youth with reduced employment opportunities and higher under-employment. Also – robots got a mention as a threat to employment.

“Unemployment and the lack of manufacturing”

“Unemployment and in particular youth unemployment”

“Unemployment – youth unemployment and general unemployment being at its highest level since John Howard has been out of office”

“Unemployment is the big issue – Big companies downsizing and sacrificing experienced staff”

“Employment – they need to focus on the unemployment rates”

“There’s a lack of jobs”

“Reduction in full-time permanent jobs”

“Job security and housing affordability”

“Unemployment and the ongoing poverty and social problems it creates”

“Unemployment due to robots”


Greens supporters on Unemployment

The small number of Greens supporters who mentioned unemployment as an issue (4.8%) were most likely to mention youth unemployment and there was also mention made of the employment impact of a reducing mining extraction industry.

“Getting young people jobs”

“Under-employment and unemployment and a lack of jobs for young people and opportunities related to cost of living”

“Not enough jobs and too much immigration”

“Unemployment because there are concerns over long-term industry, the heavy industry and primary industry in Queensland. I don’t see BHP and similar companies having long futures.”


Verbatim respondent comments on leading Australian Economic Issues: The Economy in general

The Economy in general and Interest rates were centred around concerns about the Australian economy with the high debt and deficit a recurring theme, general economic problems, the lack of industries in Australia and the way the Australian economy depends on global economic conditions.


L-NP supporters on The Economy in general

The 14.6% of L-NP supporters who mentioned The Economy in general often referred to Australia’s national debt as a huge problem and the issues with getting that debt down and managing the economy properly to lower the debt. There were also sparing references to the deficit, maintaining a profitable economy and general financial instability and a potential GFC 2.0.

“Australian debt”

“Getting our debt down”

“The economic problems – our huge debt”

“Australia’s financial position, ie the extent of the country’s debt, needs to be addressed”

“Economic issues around debt and deficit”

“Our deficit and the size of it”

“Another GFC will see a lot of people in trouble”

“Financial instability”

“How to maintain a profitable economy”

“Sales keep falling so economic might of Australia is less every year”


ALP supporters on The Economy in general

Only 3.6% of ALP supporters mentioned the economy as the biggest problem facing Australia, and when they did, that’s usually all they referred to although a few did refer to the economy slowing and the national debt – though clearly not at the rate L-NP supporters did.

“The economy”

“The economy – and the high national debt”

“I think it’s our general economic situation. I think there’s obviously a downturn and it’s really going to impact Australia, especially Western Australia which is traditionally a mining space but not so much anymore so now we are in a bad space”

“The national debt”

“The economy because it’s slowing down”

“The financial situation is dire with too much debt and we need to be looking at ways of dealing with it without taxing the lower class”


Independent/ Others supporters on The Economy in general

The 9.0% of supporters of Independents and Other parties – including One Nation, most frequently mentioned Australia’s debt, but also mentioned disappearing industries, like the car industry, and under-performing economy generally and even global financial pressures.

“The economy and how to deal with the debt”

“I would say the debt we have. We have a huge debt”

“Economics. We talk about housing and jobs but it all comes down to economics”

“An under-performing economy”

“The lack of industry with Australia not having many factories; businesses don’t get rewarded enough for doing business in Australia”

“The global financial downturn”

“We are having a bit of a problem with key industries disappearing. For example the car industry. There are a lot of big industries that will start up to replace those. If we make our own versions of those industries it will put a large influx of economic activity to those areas thus making Australia more self-sufficient.”


Michele Levine, CEO Roy Morgan, says:

“Economic Issues have dominated in Australia since February 2011 when Environmental issues were briefly considered the major problem facing Australia. In mid-2017 more Australians mentioned Economic issues (38%) than the next three sets of issues combined (35%).

“Driving the concerns in Australia are Unemployment – mentioned by 9% of respondents, The Economy in general and Interest rates mentioned by 8% and Housing affordability mentioned by 6% of respondents. This is the highest ever national figure for Housing affordability and the increase is concentrated in Australia’s capital cities (mentioned by 8%) rather than regional Australia (mentioned by just 2%). Unsurprisingly, Sydney is the most impacted with Housing affordability mentioned by 12% of respondents cf. Melbourne (7%) cf. Brisbane (10%).

“Other significant Economic issues include Poverty and the gap between rich and poor (4%), Cost of living, rising prices and inflation (2%), The Federal Budget (2%) and Homelessness and lack of housing (2%) which were also widely mentioned as significant problems facing Australia.

“Analysing by Federal voting intention shows that nearly half of L-NP supporters (49%) nominate an Economic issue as the most important problem facing Australia clearly ahead of ALP supporters (39%) and Greens supporters (only 24%).

“The leading Economic issue according to L-NP supporters is The Economy in general and Interest rates nominated by just under 15% of L-NP supporters ahead of Unemployment (just under 12%). ALP supporters are most concerned about Unemployment – mentioned by just under 10% of respondents ahead of Housing affordability (7%) while Greens supporters are clearly most concerned about Poverty and the gap between rich and poor – mentioned by 11%.”

In Australia, a cross-section of 648 men and women aged 14 or over were interviewed by telephone on the nights of May 22-24, 2017. Respondents were asked: “What do you think is the most important problem facing the World today?” and “What do you think is the most important problem facing Australia today?”

These findings come from a special Roy Morgan telephone survey conducted in Australia on attitudes towards issues facing Australia and the World in the future. The research conducted was both qualitative (in that people were asked to use their own words) and quantitative (in that the ‘open-ended’ responses were analysed and ‘coded’ so that the results could be counted and reported as percentages).


For further information:

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Michele Levine:

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