The Hunter region is known for its diversity of lifestyles, industries and employment opportunities. It is recognised for its strengths in the minerals and energy sector, transport and logistics, defence, manufacturing, wine and equine sectors and is a key driver of the State's economy. It is the largest regional contributor to Gross State Product, had the highest share of residents employed (22%) in 2011 and the largest share of the Regional NSW population (21%). Between 2006 and 2013, the Hunter recorded the State's highest annual compound Gross Regional Product (GRP) growth rate (6.6% compared with 5.5% for the whole of NSW).
The region's main urban centre, Greater Newcastle, is home to over 541,950 people and is the nation's seventh largest city. The Port of Newcastle, one of Australia's largest ports, supports the region's thriving resource industry particularly coal, which is the largest export product in NSW.
The mining sector saw strong GRP growth between 2006 and 2011 (over 15% compound each year), slowing between 2011 and 2013. The services sector also recorded strong gains, particularly Health Care and Social Assistance, Professional, Scientific and Technical Services, Rental,Transport, and Financial and Insurance Services. The visitor economy continues to do well, with tourists to the region spending around $2 billion every year.
In 2011, the region had a relatively skilled workforce (tertiary education rates of 54.6%), lower unemployment rates (5.4%) and higher workforce participation rates (58.9%) compared to Regional NSW. The Hunter is well connected to nearby Sydney, the rest of Regional NSW, and other domestic and international markets. It has strong regional transport infrastructure, which includes the Port of Newcastle, Newcastle Airport and other regional aviation facilities in Cessnock, Scone and Maitland.
The Hunter has the largest economy in Regional NSW. In 2013, it contributed $38.5 billion to GRP, representing 28% of Regional NSW's total GRP.
Download the Hunter Economic Profile