Industry and employment

More than 80,000 people are employed in the South East and Tablelands region, representing 8% of the Regional New South Wales total.

Between 2006 and 2013, the South East and Tablelands region experienced compound annual economic growth of 5.7%, higher than both Regional NSW (4.8%) and NSW as a whole (5.5%). Agriculture continues to be a strong economic driver in the region (with output growth of 7.7% between 2006 and 2013), as does the Health Care and Social Assistance sector (9.7%) and knowledge sectors, including Professional, Scientific and Technical Services (8.4%) and the allied Administrative and Support Services sector (7.9%).

Mining also experienced growth, around 7% during the same period, up from a relatively small base. In contrast to other regions of the State, the mining sector plays a smaller role in the region, with the main mining operations in Goulburn and Wingecarribee.

The South East and Tablelands region experienced jobs growth of around 2% between 2006 and 2011. This was about half that of the Regional NSW average, with declines in some of the more capital-intensive industries (such as manufacturing and agriculture).

Employment in the service sector grew quite substantially during this period (over 10% in some sectors) and accounted for over 70% of the region's total employment.

The services sector helped absorb the impact of some of the structural changes with growth in Health Care and Social Assistance, Professional, Scientific and Technical Services, Administrative and Support Services, Electricity, Gas, Water and Waste Services, and Public Administration and Safety.

With a high proportion of self-employed workers, the region accommodates an entrepreneurial and flexible workforce. This helps to enhance flexibility and economic resilience. The region has a high workforce participation rate (58.5%) and a low unemployment rate (4.5%) relative to Regional NSW (56.3% and 6.2% respectively). Youth unemployment (9.5%) is the lowest in regional and metropolitan NSW and the Indigenous unemployment rate (16.9%) is also lower than the Regional NSW average of 18.7%.

Despite lower than average high school completion rates, a higher proportion of residents in the region have tertiary qualifications, either University (19.4%) or vocational (37.9%) when compared to Regional NSW (15.8% and 37.8% respectively). This suggests the region has a strong lifestyle and employment appeal for skilled knowledge workers.