Resources states continue to drive economic growth, as Tasmania lags

Western Australia has once again topped the states when it comes to driving the nation’s economic growth, despite the downturn in the mining boom.

The Northern Territory has leap-frogged the Australian Capital Territory into second place, according to the latest CommSec State of the States report, further demonstrating the strength of the mining states.

Queensland and the ACT tied in third place, while New South Wales and Victoria also tied in fourth.

A significant gap then separates these states and South Australia, while Tasmania continues to lag behind the rest of the nation.

While WA is still on top, it came out first in only one of the eight criteria, compared to five categories in April 2012. However, it did manage to come second in a further six categories.

CommSec economist Savanth Sebastian told SmartCompany overall the resources states are strengthening.

“WA was front and centre in terms of growth. The income flow is now filtering through the economy and retail spending was particularly strong,” he says.

“The Northern Territory and Queensland were healthy in terms of business investment and this has been supported by lower interest rates, fostering a turnaround in the economies of these states.”

The NT’s main strengths include construction work, retail trade and dwelling starts, however it came in last place in the housing finance category.

“The resource states will dominate going forward in terms of an income boom. The mining boom isn’t tapering to the extent that it was once thought and even though it will taper the property boom will support the economy,” Sebastian says.

The ACT slipped to third place because of a loss of momentum in business investment, however it continues to perform well in the population growth criteria. 

 Sebastian says the biggest driver of the 2014 growth story will be the housing sector.

“Victoria remains about six to nine months behind what we’re seeing in NSW in the property market,” he says.

Tasmania came in last on all indicators, except housing finance where it placed sixth.

Sebastian says its main weakness is a stagnant population and a high unemployment rate, although all hope is not lost.

“In Tasmania the weaker currency will be beneficial in a broader sense. When you see a lift in housing activity, particularly when housing affordability is strong in the region, it can support a turnaround, so we could see some other sectors start to get some support,” he says.

CommSec predicts in 2014 growth in all states and territories should start to lift as consumers and businesses show a sustained level of optimism.

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