It’s a question often asked – where and what are the jobs in regional Australia?
To answer that question, the Regional Australia Institute (RAI) took a look at the latest Census data released in November.
As the recently awarded ‘Regional Studies Institutional Ambassador’ part of our role is to share issues, ideas and policy machinations of what is making regional Australia tick – so here is the latest snapshot of jobs outside of the five metropolitan cities.
We know in 2016 that 3.75 million people were employed in regional Australia; this is an increase of almost 415,000 from a decade ago or 109,000 jobs over the last 5 years. So what sector is driving that growth? Is it the service sector, such as health, education, financial and professional service industries as in the metropolitan areas? Or are the regions still dependent on the traditional sector such as mining, agriculture and manufacturing for job growth?
Let’s be clear – findings show there is no two speed economy. Regional Australia and metropolitan areas have the same changing job profile. The biggest growth industry from 2006-2016 was mining – growing 66.8%, or 39,567 new jobs and 62% of this workforce was in regions. Health is the next fastest growing industry at 41% nationally creating an additional 389,063 jobs and 38% was in regions (figure 1). That means for every new mining job created, 5.5 new health and social assistance jobs were generated.
Huge growth in the health industry has meant that in 2016 regional Australia had two health services jobs for every one farm job.
2016 proportion of jobs in health Growth in health and social assistance jobs from 2006 to 2016 and social assistance (darker is more) (darker blue is strong growth)
Figure 1. Map of health and its growth across Australia by LGA 2006 to 2016
The growth of service sector jobs is changing the industry structure of the national economy. In 2016, the service sector nationally employed 3.37 million people, or 32% of the workforce while traditional sectors of mining, manufacturing and agriculture dropped in numbers, employing 680,000 people, creating jobs for just 6.5% of Australian workers.
Service sector workers are mostly located in metro areas, making up 42% of the metro workforce. In regional Australia there are now over 1 million service sector workers, with the greatest growth in service sector jobs in regional cities where they now make up 31% of the local workforce. This sector has grown its jobs by 4.3% over the last decade.
Local government areas in regional Australia can be split into four types, dependent on their economic structure; regional cities, connected lifestyle regions, industry and service hubs and heartland regions. Below we show for each regional type the changes over the last decade in population, service and traditional industry jobs.
Regional cities have led the regional growth in the service sector with an increase of 4.3 %, followed by industry and service hubs with heartland regions (traditional farming areas) still lagging in service jobs and growth.
Unpicking the decline in traditional sector jobs, we see this is all due to shedding of jobs in manufacturing and agricultural industries. Over the last decade manufacturing has lost 30 % of jobs and agriculture 5 %.
So, to return to the original question posed, what jobs are powering regional Australia growth? It’s the same sectors powering metropolitan areas – the service sector and the mining industry.