State economic and social indicators

Research Paper Index

Research Paper no. 14 2007–08

State economic and social indicators

Tony Kryger
Statistics and Mapping Section
17 December 2007


Executive summary

  • This paper presents a number of tables and charts that allow comparisons to be made between individual Australian states and territories in terms of their performance across a wide range of social and economic indicators.
  • Each table has data for the last five years, while each chart presents data for the latest year that data are available.


Historical data

Labour market

1.1 Employment
1.2 Unemployment
1.3 Labour force
1.4 Long-term unemployed
1.5 Youth unemployment
1.6 Job vacancies
1.7 Industrial disputes

Wages and prices

2.1 Average weekly ordinary time earnings
2.2 Real average weekly ordinary time earnings
2.3 Male total average weekly earnings
2.4 Real male total average weekly earnings
2.5 Wage price index
2.6 Consumer price index

State accounts

3.1 Gross state product
3.2 Gross state product per capita
3.3 Labour productivity

Business conditions

4.1 Turnover of retail establishments
4.2 Motor vehicle sales
4.3 Dwelling approvals
4.4 Business investment
4.5 Bankruptcies


5.1 Lending for owner occupied housing
5.2 Home loan size
5.3 Home loan repayments
5.4 House sale prices
5.5 House rents

Financial management

6.1 General government sector net debt
6.2 General government sector fiscal balance


7.1 Merchandise exports


8.1 Population
8.2 Dependency ratio
8.3 Births
8.4 Apparent school retention rates
8.5 General practice bulk billing
8.6 Private health insurance



While the Australian economy has been performing strongly over recent years, there have been quite varied performances across the states and territories. In particular, those jurisdictions with strong exposure to the mining boom Western Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory have generally experienced higher rates of economic growth, lower unemployment rates, stronger wages growth and higher levels of business investment than that experienced in the rest of the country. This has been a fairly persistent trend over time, widening the gap in the performance of different parts of the country.

The disparity in performances across Australia has resulted in increased attention being paid to 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 a state economy (e.g. retail turnover) have been presented so the emphasis is on the annual growth rate of the indicator. Other indicators have been presented as a ratio, e.g. employment to population or debt to gross state product, so that comparisons can be made.

This publication is the first in a proposed series to be updated annually. It is a companion publication to Monthly Economic and Social Indicators that contains only Australia wide data.

As there are many economic and social terms that may be unfamiliar to some readers, a glossary has been provided at the end of this publication.

Historical data

Long-term data series for every table that appears in this paper are available electronically and can be found at //libiis1/Library_Services/Quicklinks/state_mesi/index.htm.

The long-term series for the companion publication Monthly Economic and Social Indicators can be found at //libiis1/Library_Services/Quicklinks/mesi_edata/index.htm.

Note: The above links can only be accessed by members, senators and parliamentary staff.

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Long-term unemployment

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House rents

General government sector net debt

General government sector fiscal balance

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Merchandise exports


Dependency ratio


Apparent school retantion rates

General practice bulk billing

Private health insurance

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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 work.

Bankruptcies. Bankruptcies and Administration Orders under Parts IV and XI of the Bankruptcy Act 1966.

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 compulsory levies.

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 sector.

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 taken.

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 unemployed.

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, 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 benchmarking pensions.

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 Price Index.

Total fertility rate. The average number of children that females will bear during their lifetime.

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 force.

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 performed.

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.

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