Pulse Report March 24

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Business Chamber Queensland’s Pulse Survey of business conditions for the March 2024 quarter marks three decades of the survey’s history in Queensland and shows confidence and conditions have only been worse during the Global Financial Crisis in 2008 and the depths of the COVID economic crisis.  

Current weak trends across sentiment, conditions and expectation indicators have been relentless since mid 2022 and are the longest sustained trend in 30 years of Pulse data.

Sales and revenue, employment levels, capital expenditure and business profitability further declined in the March quarter while operating and labour costs both increased to near historically high levels.  

Read our Pulse news and business story.

Key indicators

  • Workforce challenges have been the most significant constraint on business growth for more than two years while businesses reported direct wage costs, insurance premiums and customer demand were also significant constraints.  
  • Business confidence in the future of the state and national economies declined in the March quarter, reflective of compounding micro and macroeconomic challenges.
  • General business conditions have been trending downwards since mid-2022 and declined again in the March quarter, but at a slower rate than in the December quarter.
  • Half of businesses surveyed said their sales revenue declined in the March quarter.
  • Four in five businesses recorded an increase in operating costs, trending towards the record high in mid 2023. 
  • 65% of businesses surveyed said their labour costs increased, and direct wage costs are the second highest constrain on business growth. Labour costs are expected to moderate in the June quarter while employment levels were unchanged at weak levels.
  • Two in three businesses reported their profitability fell during the March quarter, with lower profitability only seen during the height of the COVID economic crisis in 2020. Average selling prices continued to moderate with businesses expecting to increase prices in the June quarter.
  • Prevailing weak profit  levels, lower sales revenue, high borrowing costs and economic uncertainty continue to impact business investment with capital expenditure falling in the March quarter to levels below the 10 year average.

Acknowledgement of Country

Business Chamber Queensland respectfully acknowledges the Traditional Owners and custodians of the lands from across Queensland and the Torres Strait. We acknowledge the Jagera and Turrbal people as the Traditional Custodians of Meanjin (Brisbane), the lands where our office is located and the place we meet, work and learn. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.