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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 solidly held the position as the best performing economy, at or near the top on all indicators. Victoria has lifted to second spot on the economic performance rankings but there is little to separate the state from the ACT. The ACT has eased from second spot to third due to a softening of the job market in recent months.

Tasmania remains in fourth spot and is joined by Queensland. There is then a small gap to South Australia, in sixth position followed by Northern Territory in seventh. Western Australia continues to lag other economies and annual growth rates remain below national averages on all indicators.

State & Territory breakdown


1. New South Wales

Strength: Dwelling Starts

Weakness: Construction Work


Insights into NSW

NSW has retained its top rankings on both retail trade and dwelling starts. NSW is in second on five of the eight indicators. The lowest NSW ranking is third on construction work.


2. Victoria

Strength: Population Growth

Weakness: Unemployment


Insights into Victoria 

Victoria has lifted from third to second on the economic performance rankings with momentum provided by its leading position on population growth. Victoria is second on two indicators and in third spot on two indicators.


3. ACT

Strength: Housing Finance

Weakness: Construction Work


Insights into ACT

The ACT has dropped from second spot to third on the rankings. The ACT is top-ranked on housing finance, second on dwelling starts and in third spot on another three indicators.


4. Tasmania 

Strength: Population Growth

Weakness: Economic Growth


Insights into TAS

Tasmania retains its position in fourth spot but is joined by Queensland. The highest positions for Tasmania are third on population growth and unemployment. Annual employment growth of 3.8 per cent is the fastest in the nation.


4. Queensland

Strength: Retail Trade

Weakness: Construction Work


Insights into QLD

Queensland is benefitting from strong export growth which will boost overall growth of Gross State Product (economic growth). Exports are growing at a 56 per cent annual rate.


6. South Australia

Strength: Business Investment

Weakness: Unemployment


Insights into South Australia

South Australia is now top-ranked on business investment. But the next best ranking is fifth on dwelling starts and housing finance.


7. Northern Territory

Strength: Unemployment

Weakness: Population Growth


Insights into NT

The Northern Territory eases from sixth to seventh position on the economic performance rankings. The Territory is still ranked first on construction work done, unemployment and economic growth. But on forward-looking indicators like population growth, housing finance and home starts the Territory lags other economies.


8. Western Australia

Strength: Retail Trade

Weakness: Unemployment


Insights into WA

The economic performance of Western Australia continues to reflect the ending of the mining construction boom. But unemployment has eased over the last three months.

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