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How are Australia’s states and territories performing?

Each quarter CommSec attempts to find out by analysing eight key indicators: economic growth; retail spending; equipment investment; unemployment; construction work done; population growth; housing finance and dwelling commencements.

Just as the Reserve Bank uses long-term averages to determine the level of “normal” interest rates; we have done the same with the economic indicators. For each state and territory, latest readings for the key indicators were compared with decade averages – that is, against the “normal” performance.

The latest State of the States report also includes a section comparing annual growth rates for the eight key indicators across the states and territories as well as Australia as a whole. This enables another point of comparison – in terms of economic momentum.                                                                       

National insights
Brought to you by the CommSec Economics Team

NSW has retained the position as the best performing economy, at or near the top of all indicators. Victoria holds second spot on the economic performance rankings with strength provided by high population growth, boosting housing demand. The ACT retains third spot on the performance rankings but there has been a softening in the job market.

South Australia has lifted from sixth to fourth spot, just ahead of Tasmania and Queensland. Northern Territory remains in seventh position. Western Australia continues to lag other economies and annual growth rates remain below national averages on seven of eight indicators surveyed.

State & Territory breakdown


1. New South Wales

Strength: Dwelling Starts

Weakness: Housing Finance


Insights into NSW

NSW has retained its top rankings on both retail trade and dwelling starts and is now top on equipment investment and unemployment. NSW is second on three of the eight indicators. The lowest NSW ranking is third on housing finance.


2. Victoria

Strength: Population Growth

Weakness: Unemployment


Insights into Victoria 

Victoria is second on the economic performance rankings with momentum provided by its leading position on population growth and construction work done. Victoria is second on four indicators.


3. ACT

Strength: Housing Finance

Weakness: Housing Starts


Insights into ACT

The ACT has held third spot on the rankings. The ACT is top-ranked on housing finance, and in third spot on retail trade and economic growth. But the ACT has slipped to seventh on the unemployment ranking.


4. South Australia

Strength: Business Investment

Weakness: Population Growth


Insights into South Australia

South Australia has lifted from sixth to fourth on the performance rankings. South Australia is third on dwelling starts, business investment and unemployment.


5. Tasmania 

Strength: Unemployment

Weakness: Economic Growth


Insights into TAS

Tasmania is in fifth position. Tasmania ranks second on unemployment and third on population growth and the improvement is leading to stronger retail and home building.


6. Queensland

Strength: Housing Starts

Weakness: Construction Work


Insights into QLD

Queensland is in sixth position but there is little to separate it from South Australia, Tasmania and Northern Territory. Queensland benefits from economy-leading job growth and strong export growth – growing at a 39 per cent annual rate.


7. Northern Territory

Strength: Economic Growth

Weakness: Population Growth


Insights into NT

The Northern Territory retains its seventh position on the economic performance rankings. The Territory is top ranked on economic growth but has slipped from first to fourth on unemployment. And on forward-looking indicators like population growth, housing finance and home starts, the Territory lags other economies.


8. Western Australia

Strength: Retail Trade

Weakness: Economic Growth


Insights into WA

The economic performance of Western Australia continues to reflect the ending of the mining construction boom. But the job market continues to improve with employment growth the strongest in 4.5 years.

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