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Western Australia has achieved the unwanted title of Australia’s worst performed economy for a fourth consecutive quarter.

WA continued to lag the other state and territories with annual growth rates below national averages on all eight indicators used in the CommSec State of the States report.

The state performed particularly poorly, coming last for new construction work done in the March quarter, which was almost 36 per cent below the decade average.

Of the other indicators, WA came last or second-last for economic growth, business investment, unemployment, housing finance activity and dwelling starts.

The other indicators are retail spending and population growth.

The economic performance of WA continued to reflect the ending of the mining construction boom, CommSec chief economist Craig James said.

The repeated listing of WA as last frustrated former premier Colin Barnett.

He criticised the CommSec reports as misleading by comparing WA’s current performance with the average of the last decade, which included the peak of the mining boom and did not therefore mean the state’s economy was weak.

WA’s unemployment rate for June of 5.6 per cent is above its decade average of 4.7 per cent, placing it eighth in the nation, but it has eased this year and Victoria, Queensland and South Australia have higher jobless levels.

WA was benefiting from generally good mining and metal prices and solid export volumes, Mr James said.

“Tourism and agriculture have the potential to drive the economy in coming months,” he said.

Treasurer Ben Wyatt said WA’s economy was through the worst of the “trough” and he was positive about future years, with signs of more confidence among businesses generally and in retail spending.

NSW has maintained its position as Australia’s best performing economy thanks to relatively strong retail spending and residential construction.

 

By Greg Roberts
 
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