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Vic takes sole economic top spot from NSW

A healthy job market and a growing population have helped Victoria take sole possession of top spot as Australia’s best performing economy, according to CommSec’s latest State of the States report. NSW dropped from equal first, while Tasmania, bolstered by housing construction and purchases, nudged ACT out a share of third.

Each quarter CommSec ranks Australia’s state by state performance, analysing eight key indicators: economic growth; retail spending; business investment; unemployment; construction work done; population growth; housing finance and dwelling commencements.

Retail spending stayed relatively flat compared to last quarter, though Queensland overtook South Australia in terms of overall spending.

Victoria tied with NSW last quarter but has cemented its position at the top of the leaderboard after coming in first for economic growth, the job market, retail spending, and construction work done. CommSec chief economist Craig James says it is Victoria’s economy that is strengthening rather than NSW’s weakening, with little separating the top two.

Retail spending in Victoria sat at 16.6 per cent above decade-average levels in the March quarter (the latest data available to CommBank), while New South Wales landed at 14.3 per cent above the decade average.

First or second on six out of eight indicators. Home dwelling starts were strongest in NSW due to above normal population growth, while the state came in second for economic growth, construction work, and unemployment rates. It was, however, weakest in terms of housing finance with the lowest number of committed home loans.

Tasmania continues to markedly improve its economic performance despite recording its highest unemployment rate since November 2014. With Tassie maintaining its hold on third spot with strong population growth creating demand for home purchases and new construction work, Mr James told AAP “it’s possible that any one of the three economies could take the top spot” in the next survey. Retail spending in Tasmania was up 11.7 per cent on the decade average.

The ACT was bumped from equal third with Tasmania but sill ranks second on housing finance and business investment, and is third for retail trade (up 12.7 per cent) and unemployment.

Queensland is edging up the leaderboard thanks to strong growth in population as people move to the state from within the country and abroad, according to Mr James. The state holds fifth position on the economic performance rankings but is third for relative economic growth, having seen retail spend 9.44 per cent above the decade average.

Not much separates South Australia from Queensland, and SA has held sixth position for the past 18 months. It had the fourth strongest job and housing finance markets, with retail spend landing at 9.42 per cent above decade average.

Western Australia has come in seventh for six out of the eight key indicators, and is just head of the Northern Territory. The state has experienced its strongest annual population growth in nearly four years, though Western Australia had the slowest growth in retail spend at 4.6 per cent.

The Northern Territory falls the shortest on seven indicators, and saw retail spend fall 1.7 per cent on the average, but came in seventh for economic growth.

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