Tasmania has pipped NSW as Australia’s second most economically healthy state behind Victoria.
The latest edition of CommSec’s quarterly State of the States report, which uses eight key economic indicator to judge the economic vibrancy of each state and territory, showed the Apple Isle topped the list for relative population growth, dwelling starts and equipment finance.
It also improved in terms of dwelling starts and unemployment but fell one spot on housing finance, ranking second.
CommSec chief economist Craig James said Tasmania had been creeping up on NSW and Victoria for several years and while it had managed to beat NSW – which had been in joint top spot as recently as January – there was little separating them.
Tasmania’s “jobless rate is still high, over 6 per cent”, Mr James said.
NSW’s unemployment rate is 4.5 per cent – and in parts of Sydney it is as low as 2 per cent. But the rankings don’t directly compare the states because of their dissimilar size and demographics, instead comparing each region to its decade averages.
Victoria ranked first in economic growth, retail trade, the job market and construction work done.
“It does highlight the strength of the [Victorian] economy,” Mr James said.
NSW was a “solid performer” in a range of indicators – ranking second on five of them – but fell on relative population growth and dwelling starts.
The ACT was in fourth position behind NSW, “supported by a strong job market and solid demand for homes”, the report said.
It fell one spot on construction work, population growth and dwelling starts while lifting one spot on housing finance.
The rest of the rankings remained unchanged: Queensland in fifth place, South Australia sixth, Western Australia seventh and the Northern Territory eighth.
But both Queensland and SA are having to contend with relative high jobless rates and WA is starting to narrow the gap with them, lifting two spots on economic growth and one on unemployment.
“I think think that’s the state to watch in coming quarters really,” Mr James said of WA, where unemployment is at a two-year low of 5.7 per cent.
While none of the NT’s rankings changed, the report said it was experiencing a lift in equipment spending from a low base.