Industry and employment

There were more than 180,000 local jobs in the North Coast region in 2011, representing 18% of the Regional New South Wales total.

The service sector is both the major employer and the largest contributor to GRP in the region. Health Care and Social Assistance is the single largest sector, with a number of smaller service sectors underpinning the regional economy. Those recording the highest growth in GRP between 2011 and 2013 included Arts and Recreation Services, Retail Trade, Financial and Insurance Services, Professional, Scientific and Technical Services, and Rental, Hiring and Real Estate Services.

The strong growth in Retail Trade and Arts and Recreation Services also highlights the value and growth potential of the visitor economy. In the year to March 2014, domestic overnight visitors alone spent $2.4 billion in the region. Retail Trade, and Accommodation and Food Services (key sectors of the visitor economy) are also significant contributors to employment. 

In 2011, almost 44,000 were employed in these sectors, representing 24% of total employment in the region. These sectors contributed over $2.3 billion to the region's economy. While employment declined in the manufacturing and agriculture sectors between 2006 and 2011, these sectors remain important contributors to the regional economy. 

Manufacturing is dominated by food, metal, transport and timber products, with food product manufacturing contributing over half of the industry's revenue. Since 1921, the region has hosted Nestlé – one of the world's largest food manufacturers. The region also has a high concentration of businesses in the sugar and dairy sector. The economic diversity in the region is another advantage. Along with Health Care and Social Assistance, Manufacturing and Tourism, a number of smaller sectors also support the region's economic resilience and agility.  

These include Education and Training, Public Administration and Safety, and Construction, which all contribute between 6% and 8% of GRP. Agriculture, Financial and Insurance Services, and Professional, Scientific and Technical Services each contribute about 4% of GRP (2013).Investment in roads, rail, health care infrastructure and tertiary institution infrastructure can enable further growth and business opportunities in the region.