The West

West Australians have given up on the mining boom, a new survey shows, with consumer confidence plummeting to its lowest level since the global economy almost slipped into depression.

The WA Chamber of Commerce and Industry-Curtin Business School survey has found many WA residents fearful of losing their job, worried about paying everyday bills and increasingly concerned about the state of the property market.

The September quarter survey, to be released today, found just 18 per cent of those quizzed expect economic conditions to improve over the next 18 months. In the June quarter the number was 26 per cent.

Thirteen per cent of those surveyed expect the economy to deteriorate over the next three months.

Longer term, a record low 37 per cent of West Australians expect the economy to be in better shape a year from now. Last quarter this was at 45 per cent.

While global and domestic economic woes are factors, the single most commonly given reason for the falling confidence in WA was living costs.

Almost 60 per cent of people said living costs - particularly the cost of electricity, gas and water - were their biggest concern.

More than four in five people said they had spent more on utilities over the past year while 68 per cent said grocery costs had eaten into their spending plans.

Despite the tight rental market, fewer than 15 per cent said rents had climbed while even fewer complained about higher mortgage payments.

Chamber chief economist John Nicolaou said it appeared rising costs were behind a sharp fall in the number of people who believed they were financially stronger now than a year ago.

"Managing the family budget appears to be the biggest factor affecting consumer perceptions of the WA economy," he said.

"More people in this survey are focused on cost-of-living pressures and are spending more on essential items, and this is flowing through to how much they are spending on discretionary items and larger purchases like housing."

However, concern about everyday costs has not deterred West Australians from taking expensive overseas trips. The survey found a third of those quizzed - and a quarter of low-income earners - had headed overseas on holiday over the past year.

On that trip, the average spend was $4275. That did not include the cost of airfares.

The jobs market is also changing, according to the survey, with just 8 per cent of West Australians looking to switch jobs, down from 11 per cent at the start of the year.

Fourteen per cent of those surveyed believe they are less employable, with regional West Australians the least positive about their job prospects.

The West Australian

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