State of the States: a CommSec Report

Australia is a very big country, we all know that. But sometimes it might be better looking at Australia as eight pretty big countries as each and every one of our states and territories are run separately from each other.

Each has its own state government and each of these states perform differently in key economic areas. Each quarter, CommSec, an Australian stockbroking firm operated by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia look at eight key indicators to produce a state and territory economic performance report.

They look at economic growth; retail spending; equipment investment; unemployment; construction work done; population growth; housing finance and dwelling commencements.

Last Monday they produced their July 2014 executive summary. Here are some highlights.

State of the States Executive Summary

Economic growth:

EconomyAs you can see from the above graph, Northern Territory leads the way coming top in economic growth, with almost 36 per cent above its ‘normal’ or decade-average level of output. But that’s just one of the key indicators; let’s take a look at the winners and losers for all eight.

Winners and losers

Just to clarify, the winners are the best performers of the eight and the losers are those that came last of all our states and territories, so for the first key indicator we’ve already mentioned we have…

Economic growth:

  • Winner: Northern Territory
  • Loser: Tasmania

See the above chart for more details.

Retail spending:

  • Winner: Western Australia
  • Loser: South Australia

Retail spending was 19% up on decade average levels in Western Australia with NT close behind on 18.1% and Queensland third at 14.8%. South Australia was up just 5.5%.

Equipment investment:

  • Winner: Northern Territory
  • Loser: ACT

Northern Territory literally romps home on this one with a massive 35.5% above normal, Queensland were in second place with 6.3%. Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and ACT were all below their long-term averages with the loser, ACT, being 17.1% below.

It’s worth noting at this point that Professor Rolf Gerritsen from Charles Darwin University believes this quarter’s figures for Northern Territory have been completely skewed by one project, that being the $34 billion (USD) Ichthys gas project, a joint venture between Japanese company Inpex and French energy giant Total.

He’s probably got a point and you can read more about that at ABC News.


  • Winner: Northern Territory
  • Loser: South Australia

Again, Northern Territory leads the way on jobs, but again many of those jobs are surely part of that gas project. It’s also worth noting that these reports are mostly about trends, so Northern Territory comes top because it is 9% below its normal decade unemployment average of 4.3%, with figures of 3.9%. ACT, which came second, has an unemployment rate of 3.6% but that is 5.5% above its norm.

South Australia were bottom but have a 7% jobless rate whereas Tasmania, who came second from last, has 7.4% jobless, but again, because of the trend, South Australia is last in the table.

Construction work done

Construction Worker
  • Winner: Northern Territory
  • Loser: Tasmania

In every state/territory apart from Tasmania construction work is up on the decade averages. In Northern Territory, construction was up a massive 97%!

Population growth

  • Winner: Western Australia
  • Loser: Tasmania

This particular indicator is not based on decade averages, it’s straightforward annual percentage growth. All eight states showed growth, with Western Australia at 2.88% at the top and Tasmania with 0.3% at the bottom.

Housing finance

  • Winner: Western Australia
  • Loser: Northern Territory

Given what’s gone on so far, it’s a big surprise to see Northern Territory come bottom on this one with 17.5% lower than decade average figures for housing finance commitments. Tasmania, South Australia and Queensland also showed lower than average figures, whereas the other four states/territories were up with Western Australia top with almost 10%.

Dwelling commencements

  • Winner: New South Wales
  • Loser: Tasmania

Dwelling commencements, or new house builds, are up in every single state and territory except Tasmania. NSW were a massive 45% above decade averages to claim top spot; the story is much different in Tasmania who were 35.4% below decade averages in bottom spot.

Other indicators:

Wages and PricesAround the whole country, wages are up between 2.3% and 3.2%, but consumer prices are up overall by more. House prices have risen over the last year in each of our states and territories but by quite significantly different amounts.

Overall though, with all the key indicators taken into account, Western Australia topped the state and territory economic performance report for July 2014. You can see the full placings below…

states 2014


It may seem like I’ve given you a lot of information here, but you can get so much more by downloading the full report for yourself. You can do that through this link, it will immediately download the report: State of the States CommSec Report.

If you are considering moving to Australia and still deciding where to go, I’m sure this report will give you plenty of food for thought. Remember, it comes out each and every quarter, so it can help you keep up-to-date with how each state and territory is performing.

On current form, Australia’s booming state is probably Western Australia. Who will it be next year?

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{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Krista Gilen August 28, 2014, 1:48 am |

    Thanks for this: very useful comparison.
    Although we like living in SA, but jobwise there’s hardly any future for us at the moment.

    • BobinOz August 28, 2014, 9:35 pm |

      I hope you find something soon Krista, it must be pretty frustrating. Good luck, Bob

  • Yuri August 23, 2014, 11:30 pm |

    Very interesting, thanx

  • Kelly Whitehurst August 15, 2014, 7:56 pm |

    Hi Bob, love your website – thank you 🙂

    Just to say the link to the state of the states commsec report didn’t work for me – don’t know if its just me of if anyone else has found the same problem. Thanks. Kelly

    • BobinOz August 17, 2014, 9:40 pm |

      Banks eh, what are they like? They moved it, but I found it again, it’s all fixed. Thanks for letting me know 🙂


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