Abstract: It has been argued that declining housing affordability in Australia’s major cities has led to the exclusion of some low and moderate income residents from high employment, innercity regions. If there is an increasing spatial mismatch between housing and employment, moderately paid workers, essential to the efficient functioning of the urban economy, may face problems in accessing and retaining employment. However to date there has been a lack of empirical analysis of the overlap between spatial dimensions of housing and employment (and the commuting such divisions necessitate) broken down by occupation.
Using the 2001 Census Journey to Work data, broken down by occupation, we employ a range of analytic techniques to examine local labour markets in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. Firstly we develop formal commuting areas which represent local labour markets. Secondly, we examine self-average commutes and self-containment ratios for occupational groups across the metropolitan local labour markets. Secondly, linear programming techniques are employed to examine the nature of commuting, given the complex locational decisions made by residents. Results reveal some variation in commuting patterns across occupations with little variation in commutes but higher self-containment ratios at the SLA level for some lowskilled occupations. However longer commutes are found amongst low-skill occupations after controlling for the ‘excess’ or volitional nature of commuting, and suggests the distribution of jobs given the distribution of residents is more unequal for low-skill occupations. High skilloccupations tend to display higher rates of excess commuting reflecting that factors other than job-proximity may be influencing their locational decisions.