The ACT has the nation’s strongest housing construction but the softer job market could have knock-on effects across the territory’s economy, according to a report to be published on Monday.

Overall the ACT economy is the third strongest, according to CommSec, which judged performance on eight indicators. Western Australia remains the standout, leading the nation and coming first in four categories – retail trade, equipment investment, construction work done and population growth. The Northern Territory is ahead of the ACT followed by Queensland, Victoria and NSW with little to separate them, and then a sizeable gap to South Australia followed by Tasmania.

The national outlook for housing construction remains weak but the report says there are reasons for optimism. ”Dwelling starts are still above decade averages in three of the states and territories and again starts in three states and territories are above levels of a year ago,” it says. ”The ACT is in the strongest position for new housing construction but activity continues to ease from highs. ”In the September quarter the number of dwellings started was 33.5 per cent higher than its decade average although starts in the quarter were almost 15 per cent down on a year earlier.