April 25, 2024

Australian Economy Stalls As Consumers Rein In Spending

Australia’s economy grew just 0.2 percent in the last quarter of 2023, official data showed Wednesday, as cost of living pressures weighed on Australian households.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics said growth had hit 1.5 percent during the calendar year, buoyed only by government spending.

Household spending increased just 0.1 percent in the December quarter as spending on food and utilities stalled, amid a sustained cost of living crisis.

“The key story remains the weakness in household consumption”, said economists at National Australia Bank, adding that the country was seeing the slowest annual growth in household spending “in almost 40 years”, not including the Covid pandemic years and the 2008 financial crisis.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers said even a slight improvement in GDP was welcome.

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“Australia’s growth is subdued but relatively steady in the face of higher interest rates, high but moderating inflation and ongoing global economic uncertainty”, Chalmers said in a statement.

“Even weak growth is welcome growth in the circumstances”, he added.

Chalmers said that around a quarter of G20 economies have dealt with a recession or have just avoided one.

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Australians were earning more and retaining more of their earnings, something that would be aided by three upcoming tax cuts, he said.

But the treasurer also noted the economic pressures on many as prices remain high for essential goods and services.

“We do acknowledge that many people and small businesses are still doing it tough and we see the impact in these numbers of cost of living pressures which are continuing to bite,” he said.


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