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NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment
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This update looks at what the creation of new jobs means for NSW. We also look at ageing across NSW with new population data released by the ABS this month.

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The NSW labour market outpacing the nation 

In the year to July 2016, 90,800 new jobs were created in NSW bringing the total number of employed people to more than 3.8 million. Employment growth in NSW has outstripped growth in the rest of Australia for more than a year.


NSW and Victoria continue to be the driving force of job creation in Australia. Robust employment growth helps to sustain demand for housing. 


With housing making up the highest proportion of household expenditure, someone who is employed with a high level of job security is more likely to invest in property. This, in turn, boosts employment in the construction sector, for houses, apartments, infrastructure and non-residential buildings like shopping centres.




In June 2016, NSW had the lowest unemployment rate (5.1 per cent) among the states, with a rate well below second-place Victoria (at 5.4 per cent). NSW’s unemployment rate been below the national average for more than a year.

Employment in Greater Sydney grew by 61,400 over the year to June 2016 and the unemployment rate was 0.4 per cent lower than the NSW rate.


A strong job market and a low unemployment rate in Sydney is providing a counter to the lure of lower property prices in other parts of Australia and regional NSW. People will often pay higher property prices to live in an area where the job market is strong. 

Regional NSW is also thriving

Compared to all other regional areas in Australia, in 12-month average terms, regional NSW recorded the largest increase (up 56,400) and strongest growth (+4.7 per cent) over the year to July 2016. The 12-month average regional NSW unemployment rate in July 2016 was 6.1 per cent, down from 7.3 per cent in July 2015. 

Achieving the Premier's and state priorities 

The strong jobs market in Sydney and Regional NSW over the last 12 months is helping the Government deliver on the Premier’s Priority of creating 150,000 new jobs by 2019. While strong employment growth will place further demand on housing, the Government has set the direction through A Plan for Growing Sydney to develop strategic district plans to deliver on its state priority of increasing housing supply.  

NSW continues to get older 

The one million people added to the NSW population over the past decade was not spread evenly across age groups. Half of this increase was people of working age (15-64 years old), 32 per cent were people aged 65 and over, and only 12 per cent were under 15 (see Figure 1). 


The result is that the State’s population continues to age. It has become increasingly concentrated towards the older age groups. One consequence is that in the future there will be fewer young workers entering the workforce compared to those retiring. 





Population ageing over the past decade has been more noticeable in regional NSW (Figure 2). This is exacerbated by relatively few people of working age, largely because young people leave regional areas. However, Sydney is not immune to ageing, as the oldest of the baby boom generation are now reaching 70 years of age. 



Where is NSW’s oldest population?

Comparing Sydney and regional NSW ignores a lot of differences across the State. Our oldest community, which is officially also Australia’s oldest, is Tea Gardens-Haws Nest, near Port Stephens. Half of all its residents were at least 61 years of age. Our two oldest council areas, Great Lakes and Eurobodalla (Table 1) have been popular retirement spots, which has sped up ageing in coastal areas.


Table 1. Oldest LGAs in Metropolitan Sydney and regional NSW, 30 June 2015

Metropolitan Sydney Regional NSW (outside Sydney)
Median age of population (years)1  
Blue Mountains 43.5 Great Lakes 54.7
Pittwater 42.9 Eurobodalla 52.2
Ku-ring-gai 41.7 Urana 52.1
Mosman 41.2 Tenterfield 51.8
Hunters Hill 40.4 Gloucester 51.4
Percentage of population aged 65+ years  
Pittwater 18.6 Great Lakes 33.5
Hunters Hill 18.2 Eurobodalla 29.1
Blue Mountains 18.1 Gloucester 28.4
Woollahra 17.8 Urana 28.1
Ku-ring-gai 17.7 Murray 27.6

(1) Age at which half of the population is younger and half is older.


Data source: ABS Cat. 3235.0 - Population by Age and Sex, Regions of Australia, 2015.


By comparison, our younger populations are generally found in Metropolitan Sydney. The youngest parts of the city are suburbs around the University of NSW, and western areas including Auburn and Strathfield (see Table 2). In these places, half of the population is under 32 years of age, compared with the Blue Mountains, where the average age is almost 44 years.


The youngest areas of regional NSW are the larger regional centres, often with regional universities and TAFEs, or places with large indigenous populations, for example, Brewarrina.


Table 2. Youngest LGAs in Metropolitan Sydney and Regional NSW, 30 June 2015

Metropolitan Sydney Regional NSW (outside Sydney)
Median age of population (years)1  
Auburn 32.3 Brewarrina 32.3
Strathfield 32.9 Armidale Dumaresq 34.1
Sydney 32.9 Cobar 34.4
Blacktown 33.2 Muswellbrook 34.4
Liverpool 33.4 Wagga Wagga 34.6
Percentage of population under 15 years  
Camden 23.7 Brewarrina 27.6
Blacktown 22.9 Bourke 24.7
Liverpool 22.3 Narromine 24.1
Wollondilly 21.8 Cobar 23.3
Bankstown 21.7 Conargo 22.6

(1) Age at which half of the population is younger and half is older.


Data source: ABS Cat. 3235.0 - Population by Age and Sex, Regions of Australia, 2015.


The age patterns that we see are the combined result of the drivers of population change – births, deaths and migration. Population movement has the greatest impact on the age profiles of regional communities, with the loss of workers and young families from many locations. They move to regional centres, or Sydney. With larger numbers of young adults in these places, we also see more children.

Changing age structures across NSW’s regions

Different patterns of population ageing for the ten regions in NSW shows that each region requires a unique policy response to their population trends.


The number of people aged 65 or older has grown across all regions in NSW (see Figure 1). The increase in the Far West was significantly less than in the South East and Tablelands. While Metropolitan Sydney is relatively younger than the rest of the State, its population aged 65 or older increased by about 152,400 people over the last decade. This increase in the number of older persons has implications for government agencies in meeting the demands on services and infrastructure for older people.


Looking at the other end of the age spectrum, the number of children under 15 years has declined or remained relatively stable between 2005 and 2015 in all NSW regions except the Central Coast, Hunter, and Metropolitan Sydney. There was a 12 per cent decline in the number of children under 15 years in the Far West, while most of the other losses were slower than 5 per cent.




These different rates of growth between the older and youngest age groups are transforming populations in a way never before seen in Australia. The number of people aged 65 and older are beginning to outnumber those aged under 15 years. Across NSW, this age pattern is now seen in the Central Coast, Hunter, Illawarra-Shoalhaven, North Coast and South East and Tablelands regions (Figure 2).




These differences mean that policy responses will have to be tailored for the people who live in each region. Some places will need more child-focused services, while for others it will be about a greater focus on services and infrastructure of older people.