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Job certainty is keeping the lid on cost-of-living stress, survey finds


The lowest unemployment rate in almost 50 years is helping Australian consumers cope with cost-of-living pressures, a new survey has found.

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The National Australia Bank’s consumer stress index increased for the second straight quarter, but remains comfortably below the survey average which has been running for 10 years.

The index rose to 56.4 points in the June quarter from 55.7 points in the March quarter, but remained below the 57.8 points of a year ago and a survey average of 58.7 points.

The research showed stress related to job security eased further to a four-year low of 41.4 points.

But stress associated with cost of living jumped to 67 points, the highest since 2018.

NAB’s personal banking group executive Rachel Slade acknowledged that there are some individuals who may be feeling the cost-of-living pressures, but many of the bank’s customers are in a “really good position right now”.

“In fact 70 per cent are ahead on their mortgage payments giving them financial flexibility,” she told AAP.

At the same time, she said job security is critical to relieving household stress and the high rate of employment is doing a lot to put people at ease.

The bank established its NAB Assist team in 2016 that helps customers who may need financial help.

“We are seeing many customers make their own adjustments – 40 per cent of Australians are now creating and following a budget which is brilliant,” she said.

Still, other surveys have shown consumer confidence slumping in recent months in the face of rising interest rates and falling house prices, which may hit spending and economic growth later this year.

Many economists are expecting the Reserve Bank of Australia to lift the cash rate by a further 50 basis points at its July 5 board meeting, matching the increase in June, which was the biggest move since February 2000.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics will release its business conditions and sentiments survey for June on Thursday, which will show how firms are coping in an environment of high inflation, which the RBA expects will reach seven per cent this year.

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