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Premier Mark McGowan: WA economy ‘back on track’ in jobs, mining

Source: The West Australian

WA’s economy is on the mend with evidence appearing “every day” of growing confidence from business and consumers that is translating into more jobs, Mark McGowan has declared.

Despite a report out today confirming WA as the weakest State or Territory economy, the Premier said there were clear signs of economic improvement in the mining sector and more broadly.

The domestic side of the State economy endured three years of recession, shrinking almost 16 per cent since the middle of 2012.

But over recent months there has been a lift in local activity that has also coincided with stronger consumer and business sentiment while full-time employment has climbed to its highest level in three years.

Mr McGowan said though there were challenges, the economy was definitely gaining ground. “It’s improving and we see evidence every day,” he said.

“Whenever you review business confidence, consumer confidence, investment creation, participation rates, every statistic is getting better.

“We’re confident we’ve got the State back on the right track.”

The Premier said broadening the local economy while maintaining the strength of mining was starting to pay dividends.

However, he cautioned outside risks could have an impact.

The Australian share market, for instance, has shed almost $200 billion in value since August, with expectations it will again open lower today.

“We can’t control what happens on the world’s share markets, or what Donald Trump does to China or any of those sort of things or the reaction, but everything we can do to keep the economy strong we have done and will continue to do,” Mr McGowan said.

His comments came ahead of the release of the quarterly “state of the States” report from CommSec, which confirmed WA remained the nation’s weakest economy.

Across all key measures, including jobs, retail spending, housing starts and construction work, WA was either bottom or second last.

But CommSec chief economist Craig James said there were clear positives for WA, with it lifting off recent lows.

The best evidence was in equipment spending, a sign the mining sector was starting to reinvest, as well as the jobs market where full-time employment is back to its highest level in almost three years.

“The trend jobless rate in WA has fallen for the past four months,” Mr James said.

“In addition there are encouraging signs for mining, tourism and regional housing markets.”

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