For the first time in more than two years, Australians' contributions into various superannuation funds experienced a decline in the September quarter, spurred by jobs cuts and financial anxieties.
A report by the Financial Services Council on Thursday showed Australians injected only $19.5 billion to the superannuation funds in the September quarter, which was a slide of 4.9 per cent versus a year ago. Employer contributions were likewise down by 2.9 per cent to $15.8 billion from a year ago.
"It reflects an ongoing lack of confidence in the economy," James Bond, FSC chief economist, said, noting the latest figures represented the industry's first tumble in employer contributions since December 2009.
"Australians remain very cautious about putting their savings in superannuation at the moment," he said.
Although FSC anticipated contributions could fall in the September quarter, the amount in the drop however was unexpected, Mr Bond pointed out.
"Although a decline in contributions is expected every September quarter, reflecting large contributions in June before the end of the tax year, the decline in September 2012 is larger than the usual seasonal pattern," the report said.
"The decline in contributions in September is the first year-on-year decline in total contributions since June 2012, and a dramatic reversal from the strong June quarter result."
Total contributions in the September quarter reached only $19.5 billion, down 32.5 per cent or $6.3 billion from the June quarter.
"The decline in contributions, in part, reflects slower employment growth over the past six months and the decline in 0.2 per cent decline in wages in the September quarter," the FSC report continued.
Another major factor to the September quarter decline was the cut in the super contribution ceiling for people over 50 from $50,000 a year to $25,000. The law came into effect on July 1, involving Australians with super balances under $500,000.