Population growth, jobs growth and commuting flows in Sydney

29 Oct 2012

The Sydney report discusses changes in the geography of population and employment and the impacts on commuting.

It also investigates the trends in relation to the relevant strategic planning goals. The analysis focuses on changes between 2001 and 2010 (wherever data is available). It explores changes at a range of geographical scales to convey an understanding of the overarching patterns as well as some of the finer details.

Authors: Dr Catharina Williams, Leanne Johnson, Jack McAuley and Anatoli Lightfoot.

• This report is the third in a series of investigations into spatial changes in population, jobs and commuting in our largest cities.

• Sydney’s population grew by 447 000 persons from 2001 to 2010 to reach 4.6 million, at an annual growth rate of 1.1 per cent. Much of the increase occurred in established suburbs, with 81 per cent of new housing development located within the existing urban area. The main growth locations were the Outer sector Statistical Local Areas (SLAs) of Blacktown North and Baulkham Hills North, Auburn in the Middle sector and Sydney South in the Inner sector (the over page map presents sector and relevant SLA boundaries).

• Sydney’s employment grew by 1.4 per cent per annum from 2001 to 2011, which was well below the national growth rate of 2.3 per cent. There was a gain of 47 300 jobs in Sydney from 2001 to 2006, with 35 500 jobs added in the Outer sector (including 16 300 in the North West subregion). The key job growth locations of Sydney Inner, Ryde, Sydney West and Baulkham Hills Central, each added between 5000 and 9000 jobs. The specialised centres of Macquarie Park and Norwest also made important contributions to job growth.

• Commutes in an inward direction (38 per cent) dominate those in an outward direction (8 per cent), while 44 per cent of commutes are within the home subregion. Outward commutes grew most rapidly from 2001 to 2006 (1.6 per cent per annum). Inward commutes had subdued growth (0.3 per cent).

• There was little change in the average commuting distance from 2001 to 2010 (+0.3km), and a 1.6 minute rise in the average duration of a commuting trip.

• Gravity model regression analysis reveals that the spatial distribution of residents and jobs explains about 75 per cent of the current pattern of commuting flows between SLAs in Sydney. The spatial growth in residents and jobs explained about 40 per cent of the change in commuting flows between 2001 and 2006. Expansions to Sydney’s motorway network also explained some of the changes in commuting patterns.

• The NSW Government projects that two-thirds of Sydney’s forecast 1.7 million population increase from 2006 to 2036 will occur in the Outer sector, while 52 per cent of job growth will be in the Outer sector. These spatial projections imply substantial increases in Outer sector commuting flows, particularly in flows within the South West and North West subregions.

• The Metropolitan Plan for Sydney 2036 sets out the strategic direction for the future growth of the metropolitan area. It is an extension and update of the 2005 metropolitan strategy— City of Cities—and retains a similar set of objectives. Some progress has been made against most of the relevant strategic planning goals since 2001. For example, there was good progress in increasing residential densities and focusing job growth in strategic centres, and the targets for limiting urban sprawl were exceeded. There was also some progress in increasing the active transport and public transport mode shares of commuter travel. However, there was a shift towards Sydney residents working a little further away from home between 2001 and 2010.

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