Jobs decentralising in Australia’s cities

coat_of_armsThe federal Department of Infrastructure and Transport today released its annual State of Australian Cities report, which this year says Australia is greener, more spread out and more reliant on the mining sector.

Looking for a good place to do business? Then look no further than Australia’s cities, which account for 80% of the nation’s economic activity. But get ready to look beyond the city centre for growth opportunities, as most new jobs are now being generated in outer urban areas.

Those insights are two of many contained in 2011’s State of Australian Cities report (very slow 22MB PDF download), issued today by the federal Department of Infrastructure and Transport.

The report notes that about 85% of Australians continue to live within 50 kilometres of the coast and that inner-city areas in Perth, Melbourne and Sydney are growing fast thanks to a shift into higher-density housing.

But jobs growth, and presumably business opportunity, is happening on the fringes of our big cities where even bigger population growth is the norm. Increased sprawl may also be caused by a trend towards smaller households, with the report finding “families with children continue to decline as a proportion of household mix.”

The report also found that the finance sector remains Australia’s dominant industry, with mining now ahead of manufacturing as the second most-significant industry.

Intriguingly, the report finds that one of the things often mentioned as a drag on productivity – commuting time – isn’t getting worse. “Commuting times have changed little for a decade,” the report says, noting that we’re also using more public transport and that more of us do so “than many comparable cities internationally.”

We’re also greener. “Australians have been consuming less energy per capita, particularly that generated by coal, recovering more waste from landfill per capita, producing less household waste, consuming less water and have cleaner air in their cities than they have done previously,” the report says.

Another interesting factoid the report mentions is that heatwaves are the most threatening natural disaster.

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