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GDP Figures Reveal True Cost of ACT Lockdown

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GDP figures released this week show that Australia’s economy shrank by 1.9 per cent during the September 2021 quarter due to the imposition of lockdowns in NSW, Victoria and the ACT. On the bright side, this is still 3.9 per cent bigger than it was a year ago, and growth is probably already bouncing back following the easing of lockdown restrictions during October and November.

The geographic pattern of economic growth during the September 2021 quarter was heavily dependent on whether or not lockdowns are in force in the relevant jurisdiction.

In the ACT State Final Demand declined 1.6 per cent on the previous quarter (-6.5% in NSW), which is 1.6% higher than the same quarter last year (+0.3% in NSW).

Other results for the ACT include:

  • Total residential building activity suffered one of the biggest impacts down 20.5% on the previous quarter and 15.4% compared to the same quarter last year.
  • Non-residential building activity wasn’t as significantly impacted but still declined 9.4% on the previous quarter and 4.8% compared to the same quarter last year.
  • During the September 2021 quarter, engineering construction fell by 31.7% and 10.9% compared to the same quarter last year.

Covid restrictions have eased considerably over recent weeks and concrete steps towards the normalisation of international travel are in the process of being taken. This means that Australia’s economy will have sprung back robustly during the final months of 2021 once results become available early next year. Clearly, the unfolding situation around the Omicron variant represents the single biggest risk factor.

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