THE NSW economy continues to be the worst-performing in the nation and the government must urgently introduce initiatives to stimulate growth in housing construction, business investment and jobs, analysts say.The latest State of the States report, published today by CommSec, ranks NSW last or second last in key economic indicators such as home-building starts, construction work, unemployment, retail spending and economic growth.The ACT topped the scoreboard, with economic growth in the December 2009 quarter 28 per cent above its decade-average level of output, thanks to solid housing and commercial construction, and high public service employment. NSW needed to follow the example of the ACT and urgently release large tracts of land for housing, the chief economist at CommSec, Craig James, said.New construction would create jobs not only in the building industry, but would have a knock-on effect in trades, real estate, finance and conveyancing.”In the ACT the economy is being driven forward because when more housing is required, the government just releases more land onto the market and the economy cranks over – it’s as simple as that,” Mr James said.The report tried to determine how each state and territory was performing by comparing recent trend measures of growth with each jurisdiction’s average level over the past decade.NSW ranked last with economic activity just 13 per cent above its 10-year average and higher than normal unemployment.Dwelling starts were 24 per cent below the decade average compared with the ACT, which recorded a staggering 85 per cent above the decade average. Queensland was the only other state to record a negative performance in home-building.However, residential construction is picking up, with dwelling starts in the December quarter 22 per cent higher than a year ago, the strongest growth in seven years.A spokesman for the Treasurer, Eric Roozendaal, said residential building approvals were 66 per cent higher in February than a year earlier.He said the most up-to-date figures showed the NSW economy grew at 3.9 per cent in the first half of this financial year – faster than any other state.”This … shows the $380 billion NSW economy leads the nation,” he said.However, the shadow treasurer, Mike Baird, said NSW was trying to hide its poor showing by pointing to isolated data or one-off improvements. ”What we are seeing are the results of NSW Labor scorching the economy for many years,” Mr Baird said.