The Northern Territory‘s economy continues to be in a grim decline as it maintains a downward trend in the latest CommSec’s State of the States economic performance report.
The quarterly report was released on Monday and shows the Territory was in rough shape before COVID-19 shut its borders and restricted business, with unemployment up and the population continuing to dwindle.
“This survey is a bit different with the coronavirus crisis,” CommSec’s Chief Economist Craig James said. “But what the survey shows is how the economy was positioned ahead of the crisis.”
The NT is ranked sixth on relative economic growth and equipment investment, but lags all of the other states and territories on the other six main economic indicators, according to the State of the States report.
Population growth is also down 163 per cent over the decade average, the report shows.
The Northern Territory’s economic growth was up at 19.9 per cent in the December quarter above its decade average, ahead of South Australia with 15.7 per cent growth, while Victoria maintained top spot on relative economic growth with a 27 per cent increase in the December quarter.
But the report also shows the Northern Territory is the only economy in Australia to record negative growth on retail and equipment spending on the decade average at -0.9 per cent and -1.3 per cent respectively.
CLP Opposition leader Lia Finocchiaro said there were many concerns highlighted in the report, including that people aren’t coming to the NT because they “don’t see opportunity”.
“It’s a sad indication that under the Gunner Government, people aren’t seeing opportunities to live and work in the Territory,” Ms Finocchiaro said. “The Gunner Government can’t cover its tracks with the billions of economic stimulus spent by the Federal Government to temper the COVID-19 crisis. Its economic record is terrible, shown by the latest data in this report.”
CommSec uses eight economic key indicators in the report namely; economic growth; retail spending; equipment investment; unemployment; construction work; population growth; housing finance, and dwelling commencements.
Victoria remains the best performing economy in the nation but now shares top spot with Tasmania. This is the best results for Tasmania for over 11 years, dating back to October 2009.
The report also shows that more Territorians are jobless with the unemployment rate growing at by 33.7per cent over the decade average.
“Regardless of the rankings, the impact of coronavirus is posing significant challenges across all states and territories, especially those reliant on overseas tourism and overseas students,” Mr James said.
Tourism is the largest employing industry in the NT, estimated to employ directly and indirectly 17,100 Territorians or 12.4 per cent of the total NT workforce, according to a data from Tourism NT.
Mr James said future reports will track how each state and territory has navigated through the crisis and into an eventual recovery phase.
“If we look ahead, recovery of the Chinese economy may boost prospects for resource economies like Western Australia, Northern Territory and Queensland,” he said.
Further downward figures in the NT were reported in April’s report on economic indicators, with -69 per cent on construction work, -163.2 per cent on population growth, -29.8 per cent on housing finance, and -63 per cent on dwelling commencements.
Chief Minister Michael Gunner’s office was contacted for comment.