The latest report comparing the economic performance of Australia’s states and territories shows New South Wales still has the strongest performing economy, pulling further ahead of Victoria.
The CommSec State of the States report compared the performance of all the state and territory economies over the final quarter of 2015.
While the two most populous states are strongest, CommSec’s chief economist Craig James said the ACT economy was gaining ground.
“There is a fair gap between New South Wales and Victoria and the other states and territories,” he observed.
“The big improver this time around has been the ACT — it was sixth in the last survey, it’s now equal third this time around with the Northern Territory.”
Mr James said growth in the ACT, as in New South Wales and Victoria, has been underpinned by housing development.
“If more homes are being built, freestanding homes and apartments, it provides additional employment opportunities, it provides opportunities for retail spending and will provide momentum for the economy,” he added.
New home building in the ACT is at four-year highs.
NSW Treasurer Gladys Berejiklian said the New South Wales job growth figures were particularly pleasing.
“Half of all jobs created in Australia being created in New South Wales every month, and that’s something to be proud of,” Ms Berejiklian said.
However, she acknowledged room for improvement in dealing with youth and regional unemployment.
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New home construction was 72 per cent higher than the decade average, and the September quarter was 25 per cent higher than a year earlier.
Retail spending was $22,853 million in the quarter. “Solid activity in the housing sector, lower unemployment and higher home prices are supporting spending,” the report concluded.
NSW’s 5.2 per cent jobless rate is slightly lower than its decade average, unemployment in other states is higher than average.
“NSW retains top spot for housing finance, with the number of commitments 22.8 per cent above the long-term average,” the report noted.
At 1.35 per cent, population growth is above long-term averages, “providing solid momentum to the economy”.
“We appreciate that those challenges continue, especially in some pockets throughout the state, but also for young people, and that’s why we’re boosting the apprenticeships, we’re boosting funding in vocational education and training and we’re also making sure we’re investing in those industries that are going to be creating the jobs for the future,”Ms Berejiklian added.
Western Australia has the fastest growing economy, but is bottom ranked on business investment and unemployment, leaving it in fifth place overall.
Mr James said WA is slowing down as the mining boom comes to an end.
“Unemployment in Western Australia is holding near the highest levels in 14 years and that is going to restrain momentum for the economy,” he explained.
Queensland was sixth on the rankings, with South Australia seventh.
The survey again ranked Tasmania at the bottom of the economic performance table, with stubbornly high unemployment and weakening growth in housing activity.