Industrial equipment.


  • Australia’s third largest economy ($95 billion GDP) after Sydney and Melbourne CBDs
  • Heavy reliance on declining manufacturing industry
  • Rapidly growing population
  • 200,000 regional jobs deficit
  • 61.8 per cent of the labour force is employed full time
  • 28.5 per cent of the labour force is employed part time
  • 7 per cent unemployment
  • 18 per cent average youth unemployment


Creating new and diverse employment opportunities is one of the biggest challenges facing Western Sydney in 2016.


Western Sydney is Australia’s third largest economy, however this booming region has been unable to keep up with rapid population growth. The ratio of jobs to residents has fallen consistently since the turn of the century.


Today, well around 300,000 residents leave Western Sydney each morning for jobs in the East. This is a huge daily migration that puts enormous pressure on Sydney’s transport network, as well as on families who spend a large part of their day commuting.


A growing number university-educated resident workers, has caused a rise in demand for locally-based employment opportunities in new and diverse industries.


The region is now home to twice as many business service professionals as business service jobs; forcing a growing number of Western Sydney workers to face long commutes east for work.


Traditionally Western Sydney has been heavily reliant on manufacturing and other 20th century industries - industries which are expected to continue their decline over the next 20 years. This decline has already reduced employment opportunities for resident workers in some parts of the region.


Other sectors, such as the construction industry are experiencing labour shortages due to Sydney’s ongoing residential housing and infrastructure boom.


Unemployment is also a major issue in some areas of Western Sydney and is a particular problem for Indigenous communities, newer settlers from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds, and for a growing number of disengaged young people.


The proposed Badgerys Creek airport is often cited as the silver bullet for Western Sydney’s employment issues, however the project is only expected to deliver a fraction of the jobs the region needs (around 60,000 jobs over the next 30 years).


In the past, a passive approach to jobs creation, including the release of employment lands, has not been effective in generating the required density and diversity of employment the region needs; and therefore is unlikely to do so in the future.



Industry Number of employed residents
Manufacturing 78,163
Retail trade 69,160
Health care and social assistance 68,893
Construction 52,629
Transport postal and warehousing 43,708
Education and training 41,720
Public administration and safety 40,073
Accommodation and food services 38,018
Wholesale trade 36,561
Professional, scientific and technical services 36,289


 Employment deficit chart gws


Key policy priorities:

  • Work to develop a comprehensive Western Sydney economic development plan.
  • Diversify the Western Sydney employment market.
  • Fund the development of new environmental and high technology industry clusters, located close to where workers live, close to existing public transport infrastructure.
  • Urgently release fully serviced employment lands with essential transport linkages.
  • Provide incentives for financial services businesses and other high value service enterprises to establish or relocate their operations to Western Sydney’s existing major commercial centres and business parks.
  • Improve public transport infrastructure, better connecting people to the West’s major employment hubs.
  • Co-locate tertiary educational facilities in or near the new industry clusters and give priority to the new clusters for the roll out of the National Broadband Network.
  • Provide greater support for school-based apprenticeships, school-industry partnerships and for first year apprenticeships to help secure entry level employment.
  • Increase support for disengaged young people, school-industry partnerships, entry level training.
  • Relocate key government agencies and jobs to outer-urban centres such as Penrith, Liverpool, Blacktown and Parramatta.



Employment by sub-region:

 Greater Western Sydney - divided into Greater Sydney Commission planning districts




Blue Mountains, Hawkesbury and Penrith


Top three employment industries:

  1. Retail trade
  2. Health care and social assistance
  3. Education and training


Industries with greatest jobs deficits:

  1. Wholesale trade (-6,038)
  2. Manufacturing (-5,405)
  3. Financial and insurance services (-5,066)


 Total jobs deficit: 53, 822



West Central

Bankstown, Blacktown, Cumberland, Parramatta and The Hills


Top three employment industries:

  1. Manufacturing
  2. Retail trade
  3. Health care and social assistance


Industries with greatest jobs deficits:

  1. Professional, scientific and technical services (-13,050)
  2. Financial and insurance services (-12,590)
  3. Accommodation and food services (--5,571)


Total jobs deficit: 19,814



South West

Fairfield, Liverpool, Camden, Campbelltown and Wollondilly


Top three employment industries:

  1. Manufacturing
  2. Health care and social assistance
  3. Retail trade


Industries with greatest jobs deficits:

  1. Transport postal and warehousing (-11,214)
  2. Financial and insurance services (-10,402)
  3. Professional, scientific and technical services (-8,541)


Total jobs deficit: 78,772




Further information:

WSU Centre for Western Sydney: Addressing Western Sydney’s jobs slide (Published 7 April, 2016)

SGS Economics – Attracting jobs to outer urban growth areas (Published 2015)

WESTIR: Who works where and how do they get there? (2011 Census data)

WSU Centre for Western Sydney: Addressing Western Sydney’s jobs slide (Published 7 April, 2016)



WSROC media releases:

West demands a plan for Badgerys (Published 6 June, 2016)

Fewer than 20% of jobs accessible by 30 minute car trip (Published 18 May, 2016)

Budget generous but will not deliver Smart Cities for the West (Published 4 May, 2016)

VET policies should focus on skills shortages (Published 20 June 2016)

WSROC welcomes holistic approach to West (Published 20 June, 2016)



Western Sydney news articles:

The Australian – Badgerys Creek ‘needs to be more than just an airport’(Published 2 June, 2016)

Sydney Morning Herald – Liverpool emerges as new growth centre(Published 3 June, 2016)

Penrith Press - Can you really live within 30 minutes of work, rest and play?(10 May, 2016)

Penrith Press – First business-led plan for jobs creation in Western Sydney targets grey collar workers(14 December, 2015)

Sydney Morning Herald – The daily exodus from Western Sydney(Published 5 April, 2014)