ACT is the Place to Be, if it Wasn't for Canberra

Last Updated Mar 20, 2011 5:02 PM EDT

The ACT is the best place in the land to earn a dollar, buy or build a house, and go shopping. Tasmania is at the other end of the scale, but at least the scenery is nice and they don't have to live next door to the pollies.
The latest Australian Economic Indicators from the ABS, released just before Christmas, give us a useful comparison of each state and territory based on various economic indicators. The average weekly income in the ACT, for example, is $1,130 --- 23 percent above the Aussie average and 43 percent higher than Tasmania. The mining industry helps WA workers to $1,045 per week, compared to $916 in NSW, $900 in Victoria and $890 in Queensland.


Mining is also helping the WA housing market to boom. In October 2010 there was $672 in housing finance commitments per head of population, compared to just $614 in NSW. This is surprising given the argument that the alleged housing shortage in Sydney is inflating NSW house prices.

Home loans are far higher though in Victoria. The state saw a sharp increase in house prices in 2010 and this is reflected in home loans 13 percent higher than the national average, second only to ACT (23 percent higher). In a state with higher than average unemployment, lower than average income, and slightly higher than average retail spending you have to wonder where they're getting their money from.

Retail spending is always a good sign of economic health. This can be measured by examining the size of Gerry Harvey's smile (not quite as wide this Christmas) or, with a bit of a time lag, looking through the ABS economic indicators data. This tells us that from July to September we each spent $2,700 --- more in WA ($2,840) and NT ($2,916), but less in NSW ($2,589) and Tassie ($2,499).


The worry for NSW is the relative slide in retail spending. In 1990, per head of population the state's retail spend was 7 percent above the national average --- 19 years later it's 4 percent below. Even Tasmanians and South Australians are spending more per head on retail --- goodness knows what they're buying.
Victorians, who have convinced themselves they're wealthier than they appear on paper, have gone from 4 percent behind the average to 1 percent ahead. They now spend 6 percent more than their NSW counterparts on shopping.

Once again though, ACT leads the pack. In fact it seems to lead virtually every economic indicator, which I find a little disturbing for a state that produces little except a lot of political hot air.

Read more By The Numbers articles by Phil Dobbie here.