Barry Leddicoat

Real estate and retail propel NSW forward in economic report

BOOMING property markets and retail spending have pushed New South Wales further ahead in the nation's economic rankings.

Commsec's latest State of the States report found NSW had regained its top ranking on population growth and was number one on new home construction.

It ranked second on business investment and housing finance, but fourth on overall construction work and unemployment and fifth on economic growth.

The report found NSW had stretched its lead, with Northern Territory dropping back from a shared first place last quarter into second.

Labor took aim at the Baird Government for the state's poor figures on economic growth and 6.1% unemployment rate - fifth on the ladder behind Western Australia, Queensland, ACT and South Australia.

"It's even worse in regional NSW where unemployment is in double digits - 12.4% in the Hunter; 11% in the Murray and 10.6% in Richmond-Tweed," Labor leader Luke Foley said.

"If this is Mike Baird's idea of a nation-leading economy I'd hate to see what his idea of being on the bottom rung would be like.

"If interest rates rise and the housing market cools off, Mike Baird will be like the emperor with no clothes."

Commsec chief economist Craig James said NSW was expected to hold onto its top spot for at least the next three to six months.

"Northern Territory will probably hold onto second spot but beneath that, in terms of the rankings, we could see Victoria as the big improver, perhaps taking Western Australia's third spot and perhaps moving up even further into Northern Territory's number two spot," he said.

"In terms of Queensland, it will probably hold its position around the middle of the economic performance table."

Mr James said Tasmania could be another "big mover", with its unemployment rate at a three-year low of 6.5%. 

STRONG ECONOMIES

1. New South Wales

Strength: Retail spending

Weakness: Construction

2. Northern Territory

Strength: Employment

Weakness: Housing finance

3. Western Australia

Strength: Retail trade

Weakness: Unemployment

4. Victoria

Strength: Home lending

Weakness: Equipment spending

5. Queensland

Strength: Business investment

Weakness: Unemployment

6. ACT

Strength: Housing finance

Weakness: Unemployment

7. South Australia

Strength: Population growth

Weakness: Dwelling starts

8. Tasmania

Strength: Employment

Weakness: Various


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