Chapter SixWhere we work

The NSW Government is the largest single employer in Australia. It employs a large proportion of the workforce in many parts of NSW, and the economies of many regional communities benefit from the flow-on effects of NSW public sector employment.

In 2017, 58.1% of all NSW Government employees worked in Sydney (Sydney East and Sydney West combined), with the remaining 41.9% spread across the rest of NSW. The distribution of employees between Sydney and regional areas marginally favoured the latter when compared to the geographical distribution of the resident population of NSW, with an estimated 36.6% of NSW persons living in regional areas1.

Figure 6.1 Headcount of NSW public sector employees by region, 2017

Generated with Qt 5,796 (1.5%) Southern Highlands and Shoalhaven 23,994 (6.2%) Newcastle and Lake Macquarie 11,047 (2.8%) New England and North West 10,296 (2.6%) Hunter Valley exc Newcastle 8,086 (2.1%) Coffs Harbour - Grafton 10,303 (2.6%) Far West and Orana 12,067 (3.1%) Richmond - Tweed 95,977 (24.7%) Sydney West 129,915 (33.4%) Sydney East 10,811 (2.8%) Mid North Coast 15,346 (3.9%) Illawarra 15,347 (3.9%) Central Coast 14,071 (3.6%) Central West 10,768 (2.8%) Capital Region 5,829 (1.5%) Murray 9,471 (2.4%) Riverina

More granular data

Up until the 2016 Workforce Profile collection, the only two geographical items included in the collection were work postcode and home postcode. Two fields capturing work suburb and home suburb were introduced into the collection in 2016 and became compulsory for agencies in the 2017 collection. The combination of postcode and suburb allows for a far more sophisticated approach to geographical analyses through improved granularity, with these analyses being used to support policy and to study the impact of geographical variables, such as commuting time, on a host of other work-related variables. The new methodology for geographical analyses, drawing on suburb in addition to postcode, will be adopted in 2018 when there will be two years of complete suburb data available.

Regional profiles

Key statistics for each region are displayed in Table 6.1. Additionally, the distribution of census FTE by region and service is shown in Table 6.2. Services with a Sydney-to-regional ratio similar to that of the general NSW population were the Public Service and other Crown services. The NSW Health Service and NSW Teaching Service had lower Sydney-to-regional ratios (i.e., lower proportions of employees in Sydney) relative to the general population. In contrast, NSW Police Force and Transport Service of NSW had higher Sydney-to-regional ratios (i.e. higher proportions of employees in Sydney) relative to the general population.

Table 6.1: Key statistics by Region, 2017

Region2 Estimated resident population3 Census period FTE 2016 Census period FTE 2017 Change in census period FTE (%) Median Age Median Salary (non-casual, $) Median Tenure (non-casual,  years in agency) Part-time (non-casual, %)
Capital Region 224,288 8,514 8,640 1.5% 47 $81,225 10.3 35.8%
Central Coast 335,309 12,792 12,634 -1.2% 45 $83,381 10.3 33.7%
Central West 210,762 11,678 11,579 -0.9% 45 $79,130 9.6 31.1%
Coffs Harbour - Grafton 138,904 6,424 6,548 1.9% 48 $83,689 10.4 35.9%
Far West and Orana 116,795 8,277 8,577 3.6% 44 $75,279 8.5 27.5%
Hunter Valley exc Newcastle 269,668 8,497 8,184 -3.7% 45 $79,130 10.4 37.6%
Illawarra 303,701 12,936 12,266 -5.2% 45 $82,509 10.8 32.4%
Mid North Coast 216,002 8,570 8,893 3.8% 47 $82,401 10.6 35.6%
Murray 117,783 4,522 4,565 0.9% 46 $80,967 9.9 39.9%
New England and North West 185,787 8,868 8,970 1.2% 46 $79,130 10.1 34.2%
Newcastle and Lake Macquarie 370,182 19,814 19,138 -3.4% 45 $82,509 10.4 31.8%
Richmond - Tweed 245,164 9,455 9,519 0.7% 48 $83,689 11.2 42.2%
Riverina 159,794 7,705 7,778 0.9% 44 $79,130 9.1 32.6%
Southern Highlands and Shoalhaven 150,676 4,322 4,684 8.4% 47 $80,381 10.4 38.0%
Sydney East 2,636,047 111,061 110,241 -0.7% 44 $83,941 7.8 22.3%
Sydney West 2,058,412 82,364 81,682 -0.8% 43 $83,689 9.3 24.6%

Table 6.2: Census period FTE by service and region, 20174

Region2 Public Service NSW Health Service NSW Police Force Teaching Service Transport Service of NSW Other Crown Services Government Sector State Owned Corporations External to Government Sector
Capital Region 1,681 2,730 635 2,143 194 823 8,205 435 *
Central Coast 2,005 5,484 722 2,983 94 1,345 12,634 * *
Central West 2,958 3,822 532 2,305 206 1,327 11,150 430 *
Coffs Harbour - Grafton 1,155 2,348 258 1,407 375 741 6,285 263 *
Far West and Orana 1,909 2,666 524 1,808 221 1,039 8,166 411 *
Hunter Valley exc Newcastle 2,110 2,000 447 2,423 78 1,071 8,130 53 *
Illawarra 1,736 4,965 621 2,675 401 1,751 12,149 117 *
Mid North Coast 1,134 3,088 370 2,128 71 1,230 8,020 872 *
Murray 695 1,446 302 1,126 110 653 4,332 233 *
New England and North West 1,494 3,014 519 2,227 157 1,193 8,604 365 *
Newcastle and Lake Macquarie 2,912 8,461 757 3,350 853 2,238 18,572 566 *
Richmond - Tweed 1,111 4,087 524 2,213 91 1,238 9,264 254 *
Riverina 1,357 2,735 365 1,688 280 949 7,374 405 *
Southern Highlands and Shoalhaven 930 1,542 220 1,315 47 612 4,667 17 *
Sydney East 23,524 36,959 6,279 16,994 8,358 16,173 108,287 794 1,160
Sydney West 14,971 29,046 6,237 18,747 1,868 8,340 79,209 2,471 *

NSW public sector relative to the NSW workforce

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there were an estimated 3,861,383 employed persons in NSW at June 20175.  The NSW public sector accounted for 10.2% of these, a drop of 0.1 percentage points from June 2016, meaning that the size of the NSW public sector contracted in size relative to the total NSW workforce despite remaining stable in absolute terms.

As in previous years, the contribution of the NSW public sector to employment varied from region to region. Analysis of the geographic distribution of NSW public sector employees relative to the overall workforce5 can provide insights about where the contribution of government employment to local and regional economies was significant. Figure 6.2 shows the percentage of employed persons that were NSW public sector employees in each region in 2017.

 

Figure 6.3 Relative size of NSW public sector workforce by region, 2017

Map of ... Capital Region >12.1% Central Coast <=9.6% Central West >9.6% Coffs Harbour - Grafton >14.5% Far West and Orana >14.5% Hunter Valley excl. Newcastle <=9.6% Illawarra >12.1% Mid North Coast >12.1% Murray >12.1% New England and North West >9.6% Newcastle and Lake Macquarie <=9.6% Richmond - Tweed >12.1% Riverina >12.1% Southern Highlands and Shoalhaven >12.1% Sydney East <=9.6% Sydney West <=9.6% Relative size of NSW PS <=9.6% >9.6% & <=12.1% >12.1% & <=14.5% >14.5%

At 18.8% (up from 17.3% in 2016), the Far West & Orana region had the highest proportional representation of NSW government employees. This compares to Sydney East and Sydney West where less than 10% of these regions’ workforces were employed in the NSW public sector. In most regional areas, the contribution of NSW public sector employment was much greater (as a percentage of total employed persons) than it was in Sydney, though Hunter Valley (excluding) Newcastle has the lowest representation at 7.8%.

Importers and exporters of talent

The percentage of NSW public sector workers commuting out of their home region for work differed from region to region (Figure 6.4). The Hunter Valley (excluding Newcastle), Southern Highlands & Shoalhaven, and Central Coast regions again showed the highest proportions of employees travelling to another region for work (between 35% and 40%). This possibly reflects the unavailability of certain job types within these regions and the relative proximity to Sydney where 58.1% of NSW public sector roles on census date were located. In contrast, less than 15% of NSW public sector employees living in the Riverina, Richmond – Tweed, New England and North West, and Mid North Coast regions travelled to another region for work, likely due to the geographical expansiveness of these regions.

 

Figure 6.5 shows the NSW public sector employee commuting ratio (out-to-in) for each region. The regions with the highest ratios were Central Coast, Illawarra and the Capital Region (net exporters), with 1.8 in Capital Region and 2.4 in between (Central Coast and Illawarra) people commuting out for every 1 commuting in. The proximity of these three regions to other employment centres possibly facilitates large scale commuting. Sydney East was once again the most substantial net importer of NSW public sector employees, with only 0.6 people leaving the region for every one coming into the region.

 

Commuting profile of Sydney and surrounding regions

The employment catchment area of Greater Sydney, see Figure 6.6, has expanded over recent decades and includes large numbers of employees who commute to and from the surrounding regions. Understanding where employees are commuting to and from is important for employer recruitment and retention planning. This can help business managers understand recruitment catchments, geographic predictors of staff turnover, and talent availability. In addition, geographical analyses can help existing and potential employees understand how location-based factors play a role in job availability and competition with candidates from further afield.

Figure 6.6 Sydney and surrounding regions

Map of areas in the Greater Sydney Area Central Coast Illawarra Newcastle and Lake Macquarie Southern Highlands and Shoalhaven Sydney East Sydney West

Table 6.3 illustrates the number of NSW public sector employees (including casuals6) on census date that travelled between regions both within and around Sydney for work. In 2017, the largest amount of commuting occurred between Sydney West and Sydney East. Approximately 21.2% of the NSW public sector workforce of Sydney East resided in Sydney West, and 19.8% of the NSW public sector workforce of Sydney West resided in Sydney East. This means that almost 45,000 NSW public sector employees travelled between these two regions each day.

Approximately 9,000 employees commuted from the regions surrounding Sydney (i.e., Central Coast, Newcastle & Lake Macquarie, Illawarra, and Southern Highlands & Shoalhaven) to Sydney East. These commuters constituted 7.2% of the Sydney East workforce. A smaller number of employees (4,038) commuted from the surrounding regions to Sydney West, amounting to only 4.4% of this region’s workforce. Not surprisingly, far fewer employees travelled out of Sydney East and Sydney West to work in the surrounding regions (2,383 and 1,779 respectively), consistent with the high concentration of NSW public sector employment in Sydney.

Table 6.3 Commuting profile of Sydney and surrounding regions

  Home Region
Work Region Sydney East Sydney West Central Coast Newcastle & Lake Macquarie Illawarra Southern Highlands & Shoalhaven

Sydney East

89,499

26,479

4,005

1,141

3,441

466

Sydney West

18,321

70,102

993

701

1,732

612

Central Coast

693

376

12,378

1,133

50

-

Newcastle and Lake Macquarie

696

515

1,041

17,492

-

-

Illawarra

798

662

39

-

12,529

602

Southern Highlands and Shoalhaven

196

226

-

-

677

4,077

End Notes

1 - Regions based on the Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS) developed by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The work locations of 3,998 NSW public sector employees are unknown due to missing postcode data in the Workforce Profile collection. These employees have not been included in denominators when calculating percentages.
2 - SA4s, Sydney Collapsed, Excludes 'Unknowns' and 'Outside NSW'
3 - Australian Bureau of Statistics, 3235.0 - Population by Age and Sex, Regions of Australia, 2016
4 - Values less than 10 have been suppressed and have been replaced with a * symbol
5 - Australian Bureau of Statistics, 6291.0.55.001 – LM1 – Labour force status by Age, Greater Capital City and Rest of State (ASGS), marital status and Sex, February 1978 onwards
6 - Australian Bureau of Statistics, 6291.0.55.001 - Labour Force, Australia, Detailed – Electronic Delivery, June 2017 – released 24 August 2017
7 – Inclusion of casual employees gives a better sense of number of people travelling between regions for work