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Consumer spending saw the national economy grow by 3.3 per cent in the last quarter. Image: Wikimedia Commons

Australia is officially out of its first recession in nearly 30 years, with latest economic growth figures showing the country is starting to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

New data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows the national economy grew by 3.3 percent in the three months to September this year, assisted by increased household spending as most states came out of lockdown restrictions. 

Spending on goods and services increased by a massive 7.9 per cent in the September quarter as the public rushed back to cafes, restaurants, gyms and sporting events.

ABS head of national accounts Michael Smedes said that while the result was encouraging, spending levels are yet to fully recover.

“Despite record quarterly growth in household spending, the level in the September quarter was 6.8 per cent lower than that recorded in the December quarter last year,” he said.

While the result was substantially better than the seven per cent fall recorded in the March to June quarter, it was not enough to push the yearly growth figure back into positive territory, with a 3.8 per cent decline recorded in the 12 months to September this year.

Victoria was the only state economy to remain in recession, with its economy declining by 1.1 per cent due to restrictions taken to control the community spread of COVID-19 in the state. 

Despite the state being one of the first to lift COVID-19 restrictions, Western Australia’s economic growth underperformed most states and territories. 

The state’s economy grew only by 4.9 per cent during the quarter, compared to the 6.8 per cent growth figures recorded in New South Wales and Queensland. 

WA Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief economist Aaron Morey said the figures were encouraging but believes the state government should be doing more to increase investment.

“We’ve recovered much of the ground lost in the June quarter. The size of WA’s domestic economy is now back to the same size it was in the middle of the year.”

“WA has the strongest fiscal position in the country, and must use it to achieve a lower tax burden and gain a competitive advantage over other states.”

State Treasurer Ben Wyatt offered a slight rebuttal on Twitter, claiming Western Australia “ the only state to grow in annual average terms”.

In a press conference following the announcement, Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg warned of the challenges Australia faces in the economic recovery.

“The road ahead will be long, hard and bumpy, but the Australian economy has demonstrated its remarkable resilience,” he said.

The Australian sharemarket reacted mildly to the news, with the ASX 200 currently trading flat at 6,588 points.

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