Industry and employment

Agriculture, mining and manufacturing collectively account for almost 30% (or $4.6 billion) of the Central West and Orana region's $16 billion output.

The region recorded higher than average annual growth in GRP between 2006 and 2013 (6% compared with 4.8% for Regional NSW). The region contributes over 20% of NSW's total mining output. Between 2006 and 2011 there was significant employment growth in the industry (with the number of people employed increasing by 73%, adding 2,060 jobs). Mining GRP ($2.3 billion in 2013), also grew strongly during the period, but suffered an annual 3.3% decline between 2011 and 2013. This illustrated the sector's vulnerability to global commodity demand and prices.

The region accounts for 18% of all agricultural production in NSW and is noted for its quality wine, beef, lamb, wool, vegetables, wheat and fruit. The agriculture sector is also a significant employer. In the five local government areas (LGAs) with fewer than 5,000 residents, an average 33% of workers were employed in the sector in 2013. In the nine LGAs with 5,000 to 15,000 residents around 23% of employees worked in agriculture. In the urban centres, the service sectors are the key employers.

There is also a large food and beverage manufacturing sector, with Mars, Nestle, Devro, Ferrero, Simplot, Manildra Flour Mills and Fletcher International Exports established in the region. GRP from manufacturing grew between 2006 and 2011, but employment numbers dropped. Structural change in the manufacturing industry resulted in job losses during 2013-14. While there is still potential for this industry, the NSW Government has supported the region's need to adapt through the Central West Jobs Action Plan. The plan promotes job creation and investment.

The services sectors – in particular Administrative and Support Services (21%), and Professional, Scientific and Technical services (12%) – recorded the strongest employment growth outside of mining and health care between 2006 and 2011.

In 2011, Central West and Orana recorded higher than average workforce participation rates (58.4% compared with 56.3% for Regional NSW) and relatively low unemployment (5.4% compared with 6.2% for Regional NSW). Employment grew between 2006 and 2011, despite declines in both agriculture and manufacturing. This was due in part to increased employment in the mining sector and associated industries (construction, administrative and support services).

Indigenous unemployment was higher than average (19.2% compared with 18.7% for Regional NSW).