CommSec State of the States – January 2024


Overall results

  • How are Australia’s states and territories performing?
  • Each quarter CommSec attempts to find out which state or territory is Australia’s economic leader. Now in its 15th year, the report also includes a section comparing annual growth rates for the eight key indicators across the states and territories as well as Australia as a whole, enabling comparisons in terms of economic momentum.
  • Overall, the economic performances of Australian states and territories are being supported by a solid job market and strong population growth at a time of rising interest rates.
  • Australia’s state and territory economies have slowed in response to higher borrowing costs and price pressures. The future path will depend on the response of inflation to higher interest rates.
  • For the first time in the 14 years of our quarterly reports, South Australia is on top of the leader board. South Australia ranked first on four of the eight indicators.
  • Victoria is now ranked equal second with NSW. Western Australia ranks fourth ahead of Tasmania in fifth spot. The ACT is sixth, ahead of Queensland in seventh spot and the Northern Territory in eighth.
  • South Australia ranks first on relative economic growth, relative unemployment, construction work done and dwelling starts.
  • Victoria is now in equal second position with NSW and Western Australia is fourth.
  • Victoria ranks second on retail trade. NSW ranks second on relative economic growth and construction work done. Western Australia ranks first on relative population growth.
  • Behind Western Australia is Tasmania in fifth spot. The ACT is sixth and Queensland is seventh on the economic performance table.
  • And the Northern Territory sits in eighth position.
  • We acknowledge that the economic performance ranking criteria disadvantages the small, open economy of the Northern Territory. As a result we highlight the annual growth rankings—a measure of economic momentum.
  • Measuring annual growth rates of the eight economic indicators, Western Australia is in first spot ahead of Queensland. Victoria is third and NSW is fourth. South Australia is fifth ahead of the Northern Territory in sixth spot followed by the ACT and Tasmania in seventh and eighth spots respectively.
  • Western Australia leads other states and territories on annual growth rates on three of the eight indicators. The Northern Territory leads on two indicators. And Queensland, South Australia and the ACT lead on one indicator.


  • Last quarter we noted that Victoria would face challenges for first position from four other economies. This proved correct with South Australia lifting from second position to first.
  • South Australia gained significant ground in construction-related sectors as well as overall economic growth.
  • Looking ahead, trends in jobs, consumer spending and housing will be important with Queensland, NSW and Western Australia possessing firm momentum.
  • Seven of the eight states and territories could conceivably take top spot in the next quarterly survey but South Australia, NSW and Victoria are most likely to challenge for top spot.


  • Each of the states and territory economies were assessed on eight key indicators: economic growth; retail spending; equipment investment; unemployment, construction work done; population growth; housing finance and dwelling commencements.
  • The aim is to find how each economy is performing compared with ‘normal’. And just like the Reserve Bank does with interest rates, we used decade-averages to judge the ‘normal’ state of affairs. For each economy, the latest level of the indicator – such as retail spending or economic growth – was compared with the decade average.
  • While we also looked at the current pace of growth to assess economic momentum, it may yield perverse results to judge performance. For instance retail spending may be up sharply on a year ago but from depressed levels. Overall spending may still be well below ‘normal’. And clearly some states such as Queensland and Western Australia traditionally have had faster economic growth rates due to historically faster population growth. So the best way to assess economic performance is to look at each indicator in relation to what would be considered ‘normal’ for that state or territory.
  • For instance, the trend jobless rates in NSW stood at 3.4 per cent in December. But the NSW unemployment rate was 30.1 per cent below its decade average, while the South Australian jobless rate of 3.8 per cent was 36.5 per cent below its decade average. So South Australia ranks above NSW on this indicator.
  • Seasonally adjusted or trend measures of the economic indicators were used to assess performance on all measures. The preference was for the less volatile trend measures. Original data is used to assess population growth.

Read the report.

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