Youth eyes on the world

As explored in the mind and mood piece two weeks ago, State pride is on the rise as SA emerges from COVID, with particularly strong performance for life-style aspects. Yet, South Australia is perceived as continuing to struggle economically.

Last week Square Holes further explored perceptions of the local economy in a representative survey of 400 South Australians, illustrating those aged 18-34 rating the performance of the economy stronger than other age groups, even if still weak – 38% of 18-34 year olds gave a rating of good or excellent and only 13% of South Australians aged 65+.

Only a small proportion of South Australians rate 20 aspects of the economy as poor or very poor, with many more so ambivalent and giving a fair rating, and a reasonable proportion feeling like they did not know enough to comment. 

The five strongest performing aspects of the South Australian economy at the end of June / start of July were …

South Australia’s weakest performing areas were perceived as …

There are notable differences by age. Younger South Australians aged 18-34 rate the lifestyle of South Australia lower than older age groups, and perceive the performance of our education sector and professional services stronger. South Australians aged 50+ tend to provide lower ratings to aspects of the local economy, yet rate the lifestyle (e.g. a great place to live and work) above age groups and provide well above average ratings for our space industry.

Much of the weakness in perceived economic performance across age groups comes from simply not knowing enough about South Australia’s economic ‘hidden secrets’ and this is impacting the overall general population confidence with the economy.  Knowledge gaps are larger for 18-34 year olds, particularly for the performance of the space industry (30% of 18-34 year olds did not know), start-ups (27% of 18-34 year olds), professional services (20% of 18-34 year olds) and defence (28% of 18-34 year olds). There is opportunity for advertising and other community education as to the economic contribution of key sectors, and how they are contributing to South Australia’s economy now and into the future. 

All 20 of the aspects were rated as important areas for the South Australian economy now and into the future, with the lowest importance ratings (Extremely important plus Important) being for our Creative Industries (arts, film, music and craft – 67%) and Space Industry (satellites and other sectors – 68%).

The five most important aspects of our economy were recorded as …

  1. Employment (Overall importance 86%, extremely important 57%)
  2. Hospitality (Overall importance 86%, extremely important 43%)
  3. Food, wine and agribusiness (Overall importance 85%, extremely important 46%)
  4. Health and medical industries (Overall importance 84%, extremely important 52%)
  5. Tourism (Overall importance 84%, extremely important 50%)

Younger South Australians, aged 18-34, have a great sense of comfort with the need to think beyond State boarders for career advancement. They are also less convinced than older age groups that “there is no better place to live and work than SA.” 

South Australians aged over 50 are less in agreement that there are sufficient jobs for ambitious people than those under 50, and are more concerned about the need for younger people to leave South Australia to find suitable employment.

Regional South Australians tend to be more confident about the overall strength of the local economy than metropolitan Adelaide.

There are clear opportunities for government and industry sectors to communicate their contribution to the South Australian economy now and into the future, particularly how they are creating jobs, rated as the clear most important aspect of the economy now and into the future, and weakest performing. 

As South Australians exit the emotionally draining pandemic lockdown of 2020, there is a renewed sense of pride, largely from seeing other parts of the world struggling much more. However, economic fears remain, providing an uneasiness below the surface for South Australians, impacting consumer spending and confidence. The challenge comes back to bridging the gap between enviable lifestyle and low performing economy. With many South Australians, particularly young age groups, overall more optimistic, but also more open to what the world has to offer and lacking understanding of hidden economic secrets locally.

Originally posted in edited form on InDaily Business Insights, here >
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