Business and economy

Business and economy

Economic development

Jobs across the City of Sydney’s local area are increasing at twice the rate of metropolitan Sydney and in a 5-year period between the last ABS Census', 40% of all jobs growth across the metropolitan area took place within the City.

The local workforce grew 13.6% – an extra 52,306 workers – and the number of businesses grew 10.5% despite the onset of the global financial crisis in late 2007.

The City’s 2012 floor space and employment survey revealed the strength of the local economy with the biggest growth in the professional and business services sector, which added 748 new businesses. After professional and business services, the biggest increases were in the food and drink sector with 540 additional businesses while the retail and personal services sector was next with 286 more establishments.

The survey shows business numbers are increasing across all 10 villages in the local area with some of the largest employment increases being on the fringes of the city centre. Jobs in Pyrmont and Ultimo have leapt 46%, the area around Glebe rose 38% and Chinatown and Haymarket increased 23.4% while the number of businesses in the Pyrmont and Ultimo area grew 37% over 5 years.

More City residents are choosing to work close to home with around 65% working within the local area in 2011 compared to just under 50% in 2006 who worked at local businesses.

Survey snapshot

  • Approximately 20% of all employment in metropolitan Sydney is within the City of Sydney.
  • Finance and financial services remains the largest employer with 22% of all workers.
  • The workforce has grown from 385,421 to 437,727 workers.
  • Professional and business services workers increased 39.7% to 21,920.
  • Food and drink sector jobs grew 44.7% with 9,474 workers.
  • Finance and financial services jobs increased 6.1% with 5,553 new jobs.
  • Around 60% of metropolitan Sydney hotel rooms are within the City.
  • Around 80% of all backpacker beds are within the City.
  • Backpacker beds increased 60.9% from 3,867 to 6,223.
  • Hotel rooms increased 12.3% from 18,072 to 20,299.
  • Serviced apartments grew 19% from 3,814 to 4,541.
  • The surveys were undertaken in 2007 and 2012.


2012 floor space and employment surveyBusiness in your local area

Global city, local action

Sydney is recognised as Australia’s only global city and the leading knowledge-based economy in the nation.

More than $108 billion is generated each year within the City of Sydney local area (2013/14 figures) representing over 7% of Australia's economy and providing over 437,000 jobs across all skills levels that offer diverse opportunities for diverse communities.

Despite the growth of business districts such as North Sydney, Parramatta, Macquarie Park, Olympic Park and the growth corridor to the north-west, the City of Sydney has maintained its pre-eminent role thanks to its large economic base including a dense network of globally competitive industries, well-developed infrastructure, good governance, and outstanding amenities and living environment.

Over the past 5 years our economy has proven its resilience by withstanding the global financial crisis. The number of businesses in the city grew by more than 2,000 between 2007 and 2012. However, this does not mean the City’s economy is not faced with challenges that need to be addressed to maintain continued growth and Sydney’s global reputation for liveability.

The City's 10-year economic development strategy will help deliver our vision for a dynamic, environmentally sustainable economy and a liveable city that works for residents, workers, visitors and students.

Our role

The strategic planning of a city involves all levels of government – federal, state and local – working in different but critical spheres.

The City is charged with a responsibility to engage in long-term strategic planning on behalf of the local community, workers, visitors and businesses who occupy the City and to address economic, social, environmental, cultural, civic leadership and land issues in an integrated manner.

Our strategy

The overarching aim of our 10-year strategy is to strengthen the City economy and to support business. It centres on further improving the solid foundations for success through creating opportunities for individuals, businesses, the community and future generations, and addressing the challenges that might otherwise limit Sydney’s potential growth as a global city.

The strategy builds upon the broad economic themes in Sustainable Sydney 2030 and takes into account contemporary economic challenges. It provides an overview of the City of Sydney’s economy today and identifies the future directions it may take.

The strategy takes an integrated approach on the basis of the City economy being influenced by a range of factors such as liveability and amenity, access to affordable housing for key workers, child care for parents, a diverse and well educated community, as well as those more commonly associated with the economy such as market access, sector specialisation, innovation and productivity.

The strategy sets out the City’s vision for the local economy and the strategies and actions to achieve that vision. It provides the rationale for engaging with priority industry sectors and delivering outcomes through detailed action plans such as retail and tourism, which are available for download below.

Council adopted the City's economic development strategy on 9 December 2013.


Manager, Economic Strategy
Research, Strategy and Corporate Planning Unit
02 9265 9333


Last updated: Monday, 18 January 2016