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Ranking Australia’s states and territories by economy


Mark Bristow

Mark Bristow

( 2 min read )

A recent report has found that out of Australia’s states and territories, South Australia has experienced the strongest improvement in economic performance over the last quarter, though New South Wales remains at the front of the pack. 

According to the CommSec State of the States Report, South Australia moved from Australia’s 6th best performing economy to the 4th best, due in part to improvement in the job market serving to boost retail spending and new home starts.

South Australia’s shift in the rankings bumped Tasmania from the fourth position to the fifth, with Tassie softening in the relative position on retail spending and overall construction work done.

CommSec chief economist, Craig James, described Australia’s domestic economies as being in “great shape”, with some differences in relative performance.

“Those economies benefitting from favourable population growth are performing best, reflected in stronger home building and retail activity.”

The CommSec State of the States Report assesses each of the state and territory economies on eight key indicators:

  • economic growth
  • retail spending
  • business investment
  • unemployment
  • construction work done
  • population growth
  • housing finance
  • dwelling commencements

By comparing the economy of each Australian state and territory against decade-averages, as well as annual economic growth, the report ranked these economies as follows:

  1. New South Wales – Top-ranked in retail trade, dwelling starts, unemployment and equipment investment.
  2. Victoria – Leader in population growth and construction work done, and above-average in all other indicators.
  3. Australian Capital Territory – Top-ranked in housing finances, and third place in retail trade and economic growth.
  4. South Australia – Third place in dwelling starts, business investment and unemployment.
  5. Tasmania – Second in unemployment and third in population growth.
  6. Queensland – Strong export and employment growth, but under-performing on four of the economic indicators.
  7. Northern Territory – Ranked first in economic growth, but struggling with other indicators such as population growth.
  8. Western Australia – Below-average performance on seven out of eight economic indicators, due in part to the end of the mining construction boom.
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