“Builders will hold the upper hand rather than miners,” said Mr James speaking at a media briefing in Sydney to release Commbank’s latest small and medium-sized enterprise confidence report.
While investment in the mining sector tripled in the four years since 2009, it’s now set to slow down as demand from China falters and Mr James expects residential construction will pick up the slack.
Multi-storey construction like that at Barangaroo is set to benefit all sectors of the economy.Source: Supplied
“We’re already starting to see that with things like home lending. If more loans are being taken out for the construction of houses and apartments you tend to expect that is going to translate into more building work happening. It’s the same in terms of council approvals to build new dwellings — they’re at record highs,” Mr James said.
He also busted the ‘myth’ that times are tough in Australia, as the economy has experienced 22 years of consecutive growth with inflation rates at 2.7 per cent.
Unemployment is at 5.8 per cent with companies holding a healthy amount of cash on the books.
A slowdown in China’s economy has implications for Australia’s mining sector. Pictured, Chinese workers in Beijing.Source: AFP
While construction might not pay the same six-figure salaries as mining, it could benefit more people.
“The builders get the money, the carpenters get the money all the people providing curtains and carpets and landscape gardeners and light fittings. You think about the whole process of building a home all these people are getting extra dollars and they’re able to spend that through the economy,” Mr James said.
“And it’s likely to be broader in context whereas mining is much more specific to certain parts of Australia...we are going to see a number of boats being lifted all at one time.”
But despite the slowdown it’s not all bad news. It could just be the end of days where people go to the Pilbara to “fill water bottles for workers and get paid $120,000 a year,” Mr James said.
“It’s by no means doom and gloom for mining services, it’s just different sorts of companies are going to get the benefit.”
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