SA lags on economic growth

Retail spending was weak in South Australia.
Retail spending was weak in South Australia.

Western Australia remains the top performing economy in the nation, while South Australia is sitting in second-to-last position, according to the quarterly “State of the States” report.

The Commonwealth Securities report found that while SA was strong on construction work, it lagged on economic growth, retail spending and equipment investment.

The ACT has jumped into second position as its jobs market improves. Although WA remains at the top of the ladder, it has seen some slippage in indicators such as unemployment.

This has also occurred in the Northern Territory, which declined to third spot after it was leapfrogged by the ACT where the population has grown to drive housing activity and a stronger job market.

Report author CommSec’s chief economist Craig James says while new investment in the mining and engineering construction sectors is easing across the country, the housing sector is a source of new growth, especially in regions where population growth is strongest.

“All economies should lift, once the uncertainty of the federal election is finally out of the way later in 2013,” Mr James said.

Each quarter CommSec assesses the economic fortunes of the states and territories by studying eight key indicators – economic growth, retail spending, equipment investment, unemployment, construction work done, population growth, housing finance and dwelling commencements.

WA comes out top on three of the eight criteria – housing finance, retail spending and equipment investment – is still second on three other indicators, third on dwelling starts and fifth on unemployment.

There is little separating the nation’s three most populous states in terms of relative economic performance.

But NSW claims fourth spot on the overall rankings, from Victoria and Queensland, by having the strongest jobs market.

Then there is a gap to South Australia and then another gap to Tasmania, which underperformed on all eight indicators.

HOW THE STATE AND TERRITORY ECONOMIES STACK UP

*Western Australia strong on retail spending but weak on employment

*ACT strong on population growth but weak on retail spending

*NT strong on economic growth but weak on employment

*NSW strong on jobs but weak on economic growth

*Victoria strong on housing finance but weak on construction work

*Queensland strong on retail spending but weak on population growth

*South Australia strong on construction work but weak on retail spending

*Tasmania strong on housing but weak in other areas.

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