The Australian economy performed well in 2007 08, maintaining a
trend that has continued over a number of years. Despite the strong
performance overall, however, there remains considerable divergence
between the states and territories. The standout state was Western
Australia. In 2007 08, Western Australia had one of the lowest
rates of unemployment in the country, combined with an economic
growth rate, average wage level and growth rate in business
investment that were significantly above the national average.
Despite these strong economic fundamentals, Western Australia in
2007 08 nonetheless experienced below average growth rates in
retail turnover and dwelling approvals. The other strongly
performing state was Queensland which, like Western Australia, has
benefited considerably from exposure to the mining boom.
The weakest performing state in 2007 08 was New South Wales with
an economic growth rate significantly lower than that of any other
state. In addition, New South Wales experienced one of the lowest
rates of employment growth and wages growth in the country,
combined with the second highest growth rate in bankruptcies after
Tasmania. Moreover, the net debt of the New South Wales general
government sector was higher, relative to the size of its economy,
than that of any other state.
Generally speaking, Western Australia, Queensland and the
Northern Territory have tended to perform better than the rest of
the country. This has been a fairly persistent trend over a number
of years, tending to widen the gap in the performance of different
parts of the country.
The disparity in performance across Australia has focused
attention on the economic and social conditions in the individual
states and territories. The purpose of this paper, therefore, is to
present a range of indicators for the states and territories in
such a way that comparisons can be made. This has meant that some
indicators that merely reflect the size of an economy (e.g. retail
turnover) have been presented so that emphasis is on the annual
growth rate of the indicator. Other indicators have been presented
as a ratio e.g. long-term unemployed to total unemployed or general
government debt to gross state product so that comparisons can be
This publication is the second in a series. It is hoped that it
will be updated annually. It is a companion publication to
Monthly Statistical Bulletin that contains only
As there are social and economic terms that may be unfamiliar to
the reader, a glossary has been provided at the end of this
Note: The financial crisis which began in 2008
is having major repercussions around the world. Global events will
have an inevitable impact on Australia, with the likelihood that
economic growth in Australia will fall. The extent of the slowdown
will vary between states. Consequently, the values for several
economic indicators in 2008 09 could deviate markedly from the
trends shown in this paper.
Long-term data series for every table that appears in this paper
are available electronically and can be found at http://libiis1/Library_Services/Quicklinks/state_mesi/index.htm.
The long-term series for the companion publication Monthly
Statistical Bulletin can be found at http://libiis1/Library_Services/Quicklinks/msb_edata/index.htm.
Note: The above links can only be accessed by members, senators
and parliamentary staff.
apparent school retention rate. The
number of full-time school students in a designated level/year of
education expressed as a percentage of their respective cohort
group (which is either at the commencement of their secondary
schooling or Year 10).
average weekly earnings. Average gross
(before tax) earnings of employees.
average weekly ordinary time earnings.
Weekly earnings attributed to award, standard or agreed hours of
bankruptcies. Bankruptcies and
Administration Orders under Parts IV and XI of the Bankruptcy Act
business investment. Private gross
fixed capital formation for machinery and equipment; non-dwelling
construction; livestock; and intangible fixed assets.
consumer price index. A measure of
change in the price of a basket of goods and services from a base
period. Changes in the consumer price index are the most commonly
used measures of inflation.
dependency ratio. Ratio of the
economically inactive to economically active population. Shows the
number of children aged 0 14 years and persons aged 65 years and
over, per 100 persons aged 15 64 years.
employed persons. Persons aged 15 and
over who, during a period of one week, worked for one hour or more
for pay or worked for one hour or more without pay in a family
business or on a family farm.
general government sector. Government
departments and other entities that provide largely non-market
public services and are funded mainly through taxes and other
general government sector net debt.
Selected liabilities (deposits held plus proceeds from advances
plus borrowing) minus selected assets (cash and deposits plus
investments plus advances outstanding) of the general government
general government sector fiscal
balance. The financing requirement of the general
government sector. A positive sign, or fiscal surplus, indicates a
net lending position; a negative sign, or fiscal deficit, indicates
a net borrowing position.
general practice bulk billing rate.
The percentage of general practitioner attendances (excluding
practice nurse) that are bulk billed.
gross domestic product. The total
market value of goods and services produced within Australia, after
deducting the cost of goods and services used up in the process of
production but before deducting for depreciation.
gross state product. Equivalent to
gross domestic product except that it refers to production within a
state or territory rather than to the nation as a whole.
gross state product chain volume
measures. Also known as real gross state product,
this is a measure used to indicate change in the actual quantity of
goods and services produced within a state or territory.
gross state product per capita. The
ratio of the chain volume measure of gross state product to an
estimate of the resident Australian population.
job vacancy. A job available for
immediate filling and for which recruitment action has been
job vacancy rate. The number of job
vacancies expressed as a percentage of the number of employee jobs
plus the number of job vacancies.
labour force. The employed plus the
labour force participation rate. The
number of persons in the labour force expressed as a percentage of
the civilian population aged 15 years and over.
labour productivity. Gross state
product (chain volume measures) per hour worked in all sectors
(i.e. market and non-market sectors).
long-term unemployed. Persons
unemployed for a period of 52 weeks or more.
male total average weekly earnings.
Weekly ordinary time earnings plus weekly overtime earnings of all
male employees. This measure of earnings is used in the process of
private health insurance hospital coverage
rate. The percentage of the total population that has
private health insurance hospital coverage.
real average weekly earnings. Average
weekly earnings adjusted for inflation as measured by the Consumer
total fertility rate. The average
number of children that females will bear during their
turnover. Includes retail sales;
wholesale sales; takings from repairs, meals and hiring of goods;
commissions from agency activity; and net takings from gaming
machines. Turnover includes the Goods and Services Tax.
unemployed persons. Persons aged 15
and over who, during a period of one week, were not employed but
had actively looked for work in the previous four weeks and were
available to start work.
unemployment rate. The number of
unemployed persons expressed as a percentage of the labour
wage price index. A measure of change
in the price of labour (i.e. wages, salaries and overtime)
unaffected by changes in the quality or quantity of work
youth unemployment. Number of 15 19
year olds looking for full-time work.
youth unemployment rate. Number of 15
19 year olds looking for full-time work expressed as a percentage
of the full-time labour force in the same age group.