The success of NSW’s front line of defence – its COVID tracking and tracing – has been world class. That’s kept businesses open and families spending. And although soaring house prices will eventually bite Sydney, pricing it out as an option for many, it helps near-term recovery. But the costly lack of migrants, foreign students and tourists looks set to linger.
Victoria’s economy suffered much more than any state or territory during COVID, and so the withdrawal of JobKeeper and other supports is a bigger problem for it. But its recovery has already been remarkable, and it will likely grow faster than any other state through 2021 – as it still has much more catch up potential than the others.
Queensland’s striking success against COVID came at the cost of state border closures and the related loss of jobs. Taxpayers helped to pay for that, but from now it’s mostly up to vaccines to keep borders open and tempt Australians back into domestic travel. Making that happen will be vital for Cairns and the Gold Coast in particular.
SA jumped out ahead of the virus, getting its unemployment rate down fast. However, China’s trade bans are hurting, and it looks like a long wait until international borders allow migrants to help stem the impacts of an ageing population.
WA is looking strong thanks to robust iron ore prices and its successful hard border policy (which comes at less cost to WA than it does to other states). However, the West’s recent growth will likely slow, with much of its recovery from COVID already banked.
Tasmania’s economy navigated 2020 better than any other state thanks to success in crushing COVID numbers and in surfing the generosity of federal taxpayer support. But it has probably already seen the best of its recovery – taxpayer support is fading, and further growth may be more of a grind than it’s been so far.
The Northern Territory got on top of COVID fast, and then did the rest of the nation a favour with Howard Springs. The good news is that the recovering world economy may ignite mining and energy developments. The bad news is that, outside the Barossa gasfield, there’s not all that much that looks likely to start any time soon.
Big spending by the federal government supported Australia through COVID, and so the ACT’s public service got bigger. In fact, the ACT often outperforms during recessions thanks to its government strengths. But that’s rather less good news in the national recovery phase, and Canberra’s recent economic success is already starting to come back to the pack.