THE CommSec State of the States Report is one of a number of regular “snapshots” comparing the economic performance of Australia’s eight states and territories produced by a range of financial institutions and consulting firms, using a variety of different methods. CommSec ranks the performance of each state and territory across eight indicators relative to their respective 10-year averages, then assigns a ranking based on the average of each state or territory’s ranking on those eight indicators.

The advantage of CommSec’s approach is its simplicity. For example, its most recent report, released this week, shows NSW doing “the best” of all the states and territories, followed by Victoria, all the way down to Western Australia which ranks last. Tasmania’s ranking slipped to fifth, having ranked fourth in each of the three previous CommSec reports this year. But the margin between Tasmania and South Australia, which moved into fourth spot, was very small. And Tasmania’s ranking remains much better than the seventh or eighth spot, which we occupied throughout 2016.

The CommSec report has some quirks which are worth noting. Arguably, it assigns more importance to housing than it should — with two of its eight indicators (housing finance commitments and dwelling starts) and one-third of another (construction, including residential construction) relating to a sector which accounts for less than 6 per cent of gross domestic product, GDP …

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Saul Eslake, Mercury