Industry and employment
Mining and agriculture continue to underpin the regional economy in the Far West, together contributing almost 40% to the region's Gross Regional Product (GRP).
The Far West region experienced around 4.3% compound annual growth in GRP between 2006 and 2013, compared with the 4.8% average for Regional NSW. Mining is a key driver of the region's economy, with the sector making the largest contribution to GRP in 2013 ($733 million). Despite this, it was only the third largest employer in 2011, accounting for about 9% of employment across the region. The exception was Cobar, where almost one in three workers were employed in the sector. This lower overall employment share may be due to the sector's relatively high mechanisation.
Agriculture contributed around $338 million to GRP in the Far West in 2013. It is a strong sector of the economy and a top employer in the region. In the Central Darling, Balranald and Unincorporated areas the sector employs over 35% of the workforce.
In recent years, agriculture in the region has expanded beyond traditional wool production, into cotton, malted grain, grapes and stone fruits.
However, irrigated lands are sensitive to the availability of water and the implementation of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, and the success of this expansion can be affected by droughts, floods and climate change.
There was strong employment growth in the health care sector (8%) between 2006 and 2011, reflecting the increasing demand for services in the region. In Broken Hill, the sector is the top employer, employing 17% of the workforce. This reflects the consolidation of service provision in the centre, with the services sector accounting for about 75% of employment.
There was significant growth in overnight domestic visitors to the region in the year ended March 2014. It was up 20% on the previous year, with expenditure around $180 million. This suggests continuing growth in tourism. Aboriginal culture and art has become increasingly important to the sector.