The ACT has slipped to fourth behind Tasmania in CommSec’s quarterly economic rankings, driven by the Apple Isle’s housing boom and a decline in relative population growth.
CommSec’s July State of the States report, which mostly uses data for the March quarter, ranked the ACT second on housing finance and business investment, and third on retail trade and unemployment.
Victoria topped the rankings with strong population and jobs growth, ahead of NSW with a consistent performance across all indicators.
The ACT’s relative economic growth against the decade average was up 20.1 per cent, behind Victoria, NSW and Queensland but over the year to March, the Territory recorded 5.8 per cent growth behind WA and Tasmania.
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The ACT’s population grew over the year by 1.82 per cent, the second fastest behind Victoria, but like WA, SA and the Northern Territory, growth against the decade average was down, 4.8 per cent.
Retail spending continued to hold up with the ACT up 12.7 per cent on the decade average, and annual growth of 1.5 per cent.
That would have been assisted by the low jobless rate of 3.4 per cent, which has not changed in five months. The last time unemployment was lower was nine-and-a-half years ago.
But the cost of living was high, with inflation in the ACT second highest at 1.8 per cent, while the gap between wages and prices was the smallest in the country at 0.3 percentage points.
The ACT was in fourth position behind Victoria, NSW and Tasmania with construction work 13.4 per cent above decade averages, while annual growth was second to Tasmania, with work done in the year to March up 3.8 per cent.
Housing starts to 31 March were up 0.8 per cent on a year earlier, and housing finance was the second highest in the country up 8.6 per cent on decade averages, ahead of Tasmania and followed by Victoria.
The ACT was only one of two jurisdictions where home prices did not decline in the year to March. Tasmania recorded the strongest annual growth at 4.1 per cent), followed by the ACT, up 1.4 per cent.
The ACT was also second to Tasmania on equipment investment, up 15.9 per cent on the decade average, followed by Victoria.