Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show productivity growth came in at 0.6 per cent last financial year, below the long-term average of 0.9 per cent.
The bureau’s chief economist, Bruce Hockman, noted “significant variations” between industries.
“An exceptionally good season for agricultural products in 2016-17 saw agriculture productivity rise 18.3 per cent, the fastest rate of growth since 2003-04,” Mr Hockman said.
He added that while the arts and recreation services sector also showed strong improvement in productivity (up 6.2 per cent), that was largely due to a fall in the hours worked within the industry.
At the other end of the spectrum, construction posted the biggest decline in productivity, falling 7.3 per cent.
“Growth was weighed down by reductions in new mining and heavy industrial projects, which outweighed the demand for new infrastructure work,” said Mr Hockman.
Manufacturing and other services also lost ground (easing 4.7 per cent and 4.6 per cent respectively), however Mr Hockman again said the total number of hours worked was the cause, given an increase in hours for both sectors.
For the first time, the ABS also released what it described as “experimental estimates of state and territory productivity” to compare the productivity growth rates over multiple decades.
Between the 1995 and 2017 financial years, productivity growth averaged between Tasmania’s 0.3 per cent and 1.0 per cent in NSW.