Briefing paper

Briefing paper 3: employment diversity and growth

Regional capitals in the WA settlement hierarchy
Employment Regional planning Cities and towns F H McKenzie collection Western Australia

(1) Western Australia’s Regional Capital’s play an important role in the State’s overall economic structure and have economies that are distinctive within the settlement hierarchy. (2) Collectively, the regional capitals are the most significant concentrations of employment in non-metropolitan Western Australia (3) Each regional capital has a distinct ‘economic niche’ within the State’s settlement system, and plays an important role in job creation. (4) Amongst the regional capitals more economically diverse localities tend to create more jobs than more specialized localities. (5) That highly specialized localities experience more differentiation in their ability to create jobs than less specialized localities. (6) In the 2006-2011 period, WARCA bucked the trend for more diverse economies creating more jobs, due in large part to the exceptional performance of the relatively specialized economies of Roebourne and Port Hedland.

Recent trends in employment dynamics and economic specialization support the notion that diverse economies tend to be more resilient. Teasing out this relationship suggests a more complex story: what a locality specializes in (i.e. its specific economic function) may be as important as how diverse that economy is, implying that policy based upon promoting diversity may need refining. Subsequent reports will explore these broader questions, focusing on the local economic competitiveness of the WARCA alliance relative to the rest of the Western Australian settlement system

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