Do you know which industry is the biggest in Lake Macquarie? It is a bit of trick question, really, because the answer depends on the criteria.
If judged by workforce size, then the biggest industry in our city is Retail, which employs about 8160 people (15.8 per cent of the workforce), followed closely by the Health Care and Social Assistance sector (7604 jobs or 14.7 per cent).
However, when measured by economic output, Manufacturing is by far the most significant single industry. Manufacturing generates more than $4 billion a year – or nearly one quarter of the city’s total economic output, nearly twice as much as the second ranking industry by output, which is Rental, Hiring and Real Estate Services. Construction and Mining are third and fourth respectively.
Those two sets of statistics tell an interesting story about the Lake Macquarie economy. Our city, like the Hunter generally, is transitioning from a traditional reliance on blue-collar industries to a knowledge- and services-based economy. Hence, our biggest employer is now a service industry (Retail). At the same time, traditional industries remain very important to our economy.
On Tuesday, I spoke with other mayors at Newcastle Business Club about what our councils are doing to help local businesses succeed.
We believe the most important thing we can do is create an environment in which business can thrive.