Top employing industries in New South Wales
New South Wales is the largest employing state in Australia. Most jobs are in Sydney, which accounts for almost 70% of the state’s employment.
Around 70% of the state’s workforce has post-school qualifications and they are more likely to hold a bachelor degree or higher than workers nationally. Greater Sydney has the most highly educated workforce in the state, with 75% holding post-school qualifications (including 46% with a bachelor degree or higher).
There are multiple regions, however, where it is far more common for workers to have VET qualifications rather than those gained through a university (such as the Mid North Coast where 47% of the workforce has a certificate III or higher VET qualification). The age profile of this state is largely in line with the national average, although some regions have relatively large shares of workers aged 15 to 24 years. These include Coffs Harbour – Grafton, Illawarra and the Riverina.
Self-employment may also offer an opportunity for work or a different career path. While it is less common in New South Wales than in some other areas, around 17% of workers are their own boss.
The impact of COVID-19 on the New South Wales labour market
Following the onset of COVID-19 and the shutdown of non-essential services and trading restrictions, employment in New South Wales fell sharply between March 2020 and the trough in May 2020 (down by 266,400 or 6.5%). Over the same period, the participation rate also declined, from 65.4% in March 2020, to 62.1% in May 2020, the lowest rate recorded in the state since October 2004, while the state’s unemployment rate rose from 5.0% in March 2020, to a peak of 7.1% in July 2020, the highest rate recorded since November 1998.
Labour market conditions strengthened in New South Wales between May 2020 and July 2021, with employment increasing by 257,800 (or 6.7%), while the unemployment rate fell to 4.5% in July 2021. The state’s participation rate increased by 2.8 percentage points over the period, to 64.9% in July 2021. That said, the current COVID-19 outbreak (and associated lockdown) is dampening labour market activity significantly in New South Wales, with 63,600 people leaving the labour force in July. Moreover, employment in the state decreased by 36,400 in July 2021, while total hours worked fell sharply, by 7.0%.
The Internet Vacancy Index fell by 10.3% in July 2021, the strongest decline of any jurisdiction, although it is still 1.2 times higher than its pre-pandemic level. That said, a considerable degree of uncertainty remains around the outlook, particularly with respect to COVID-19 and associated restrictions.
Employment by region, New South Wales
|Employment May 2021||5 year change to May 2021||Part-time||Female||Aged 15 to 24 years||Aged 55 years or older||Bachelor degree or higher||Cert III or higher VET qual||No post-school qual|
|Coffs Harbour - Grafton||56||-6.9||-10.9||35||48||18||23||30||31||32|
|Far West and Orana||53.4||1.1||2||29||47||16||25||23||34||33|
|Hunter Valley (exc Newcastle)||128.7||4.5||3.6||34||48||14||22||13||48||37|
|Mid North Coast||81.1||-4||-4.7||40||51||13||32||18||47||27|
|New England and North West||88.6||7.8||9.6||28||48||14||32||22||39||38|
|Newcastle and Lake Macquarie||180.2||2.8||1.6||33||50||15||18||29||34||35|
|Richmond - Tweed||118.4||12.9||12.2||41||50||16||23||19||34||35|
|Southern Highlands and Shoalhaven||65.3||1.4||2.2||37||49||14||26||21||39||34|
|New South Wales||4164||334.9||8.7||30||47||14||20||39||28||28|
Sources: ABS, Labour Force (seasonally adjusted and annual averages of original data); ABS, Characteristics of Employment; ABS, Education and Work; National Skills Commission, Internet Vacancy Index.