Tasmania and the ACT continue to lead the latest economic performance rankings while Western Australia has surged ahead to third place from sixth in the last quarter, according to the latest CommSec State of the States report.  

The CommSec State of the States report is now in its 12th year and uses the latest available information to provide a valuable economic snapshot of how Australia’s state and territory economies are navigating the COVID-19 pandemic.

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After leaping three spots, Western Australia is now sitting in third place on the rankings, its highest placement in six years. Victoria is sitting at fourth, followed by South Australia in fifth place.

Tasmania has topped the rankings for the fifth consecutive quarter and leads on three of the eight indicators assessed.

The ACT economy remains in second position, continuing its best performance in the economic rankings over the past four years.

Queensland has dropped one place to sixth and NSW has dropped back to seventh. The Northern Territory remains at eighth place for the 10th consecutive quarter.

CommSec Chief Economist Craig James said: “Tasmania and the ACT have firmly held their positions at the top of the performance rankings due to above-average population growth in Tasmania, and a strong job market in the ACT. As a result, it’s unlikely we’ll see any considerable change at the top of the rankings in the near future.”

“The main challenge will come from Western Australia, which improved five places on dwelling starts, two positions on both relative unemployment and housing finance and one place on relative economic growth. Despite these gains, Western Australia fell five places on equipment investment and one place on retail trade.

“The West Australian economy has significant momentum provided by mining and home building. In fact, skill shortages are identified in many building trades.

“Queensland also has scope to lift its ranking in 2021 due to improvement in the job market, rising in-bound migration and increased domestic tourism demand.”

The State of the States report uses the most recent economic data available, however while some data relates to the December quarter, other data – such as unemployment – is timelier, covering the month of March.

State and territory highlights

  • Tasmania is ranked first on relative population growth, equipment investment and dwelling starts. The lowest ranking on other indicators is third.
  • ACT remains in second position on the overall performance rankings. The ACT leads other economies on relative unemployment, retail trade and relative economic growth.
  • Western Australia is now in third position, jumping from equal sixth. Western Australia now ranks second on relative economic growth, dwelling starts and relative unemployment.
  • Victoria eases from equal third to fourth place. Victoria still ranks first on construction work done as well as housing finance. Victoria’s lowest ranking is seventh on relative unemployment and relative population growth.
  • South Australia moves from equal third to fifth on the performance rankings. South Australia is sitting in second place for relative population growth.
  • Queensland is now outright sixth in the performance rankings. Queensland is ranked second for housing finance, lagging at eighth for both relative economic growth and equipment investment
  • NSW is sitting at seventh as other states and territories continue to outperform on key metrics. NSW is ranked third on construction work done and seventh on dwelling starts.
  • The Northern Territory is second ranked on equipment investment and sixth on relative economic growth, however continues to lag behind all states and territories on the other six indicators.

Annual growth rates

  • Annual changes in economic indicators are useful for measuring economic momentum.
  • Of the eight indicators assessed, Western Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory top the annual changes on two measures. Tasmania leads other economies on annual growth of equipment investment, and the ACT leads other economies on economic growth.
  • When looking across growth rates for the states and territories, Western Australia exceeds the national-average on seven of the eight indicators.

To access the full State of the States Report for April 2021, including a breakdown of each economic indicator and additional commentary from CommSec Chief Economist, Craig James, visit www.commsec.com.au/stateofstates

Interviews with Craig can be requested via the CBA Media team on (02) 9118 6919 or media@cba.com.au.

About the State of the States Report

CommSec, the digital broking arm of Australia’s largest bank, assesses the performance of each state and territory on a quarterly basis using eight key indicators. Those indicators include: 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, CommSec compares the key indicators to decade averages; that is, against "normal" performance. CommSec also compares annual growth rates for eight key indicators for all states and territories, in addition to Australia as a whole, enabling a comparison of economic momentum.