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Canberra's remarkable 2017

December 18, 2017

For each and every day of the past 12 months, almost 20 jobs have been created in Canberra.

These 6700 jobs mark the single biggest 12-month jobs boom since 2010 – and better yet, they are predominantly fulltime, skilled, and well-paid.

Those new full time, permanent, well paid jobs means our kids, taught at our schools, our own universities or our CIT, can find a job and career right here.

Canberrans no longer assume that they have to move to Sydney or Melbourne. They can forge an exciting and fulfilling career at home, whether they choose to work in government, computing, IT, hospitality, tourism, entertainment, defence, or academia.

Many will end up working in new industry sectors we can’t even envisage today – perhaps space technology or artificial intelligence – and because of their excellent Canberra education they’ll have the tools and the nous to thrive.

New Canberra jobs are sustainable jobs in new industries – not jobs that come and go on the whim of the Federal Government of the day, or in declining industries.

The major contributors to growth are in areas where the ACT has leveraged our standing as the education capital to grow new research and innovation companies. For example, the Professional, Scientific and Technical Services sector grew by a whopping 34.6 per cent in 2016-17, showing that local companies in areas like defence, space, cyber and IT are thriving.

And the big players are taking notice too, with Microsoft and Northrop Grumman expanding their presence here, and UNSW planning to establish a campus of up to 10,000 students in the city.

Australia's lowest unemployment rate

Our unemployment rate of 3.8 per cent is now the lowest in the country – effectively full employment, coupled with a strong and rising participation rate.

Many of these new jobs will be in tourism, a sector that is enjoying phenomenal growth on the back of direct international flights, growing recognition of our visitor attractions, and international accolades like that recently bestowed by Lonely Planet.

Being ranked in the Top 3 Best Cities to Visit in 2018 by Lonely Planet just goes to show how Canberra’s reputation has grown over the past decade.

We are an emerging global city in a global century.

And this growing reputation is reflected in our visitor numbers, now totalling 2.6 million domestic and 221,479 international visitors last year, contributing more than $2 billion to our local economy.

Given this activity, it’s no surprise that local businesses are feeling confident about the future.

Through the year the regular Sensis business surveys have consistently shown ACT businesses to be among the most confident in the country, with the September survey putting them at the top of the table.

This strong foundation of employment and economic confidence is at the heart of a growing city, and Canberra is enjoying the benefits. More shops, cafes and restaurants are opening around the city, creating exciting new hubs of activity in our town centres and our local shops – in turn creating a relaxed, fun lifestyle that people want to be part of.

A growing city

Just by looking around, we all know Canberra is growing – the surprise was by how much. The 2016 Census revealed the ACT has had the fastest population growth in the country, with 409,141 people now calling our city home – an increase of more than 11 per cent since 2011.

Gungahlin residents would know that significant part of that growth was in their region, which is now home to 24,000 more people than in 2011.

This just reinforces the ACT Government’s focus on investing in new road, public transport, health and education infrastructure in this thriving region.

In no other Australian city could you travel 12 kilometres from your town centre to the CBD in only 24 minutes, like Gungahlin residents will enjoy when the first light rail pulls out of the station in late 2018.

Importantly, our economic growth is keeping pace with our population.

In 2016-17, the ACT's real Gross State Product (our equivalent of national GDP) increased by 4.6 per cent, the highest growth rate of any jurisdiction in Australia.

This is well above the 10 year average growth rate of 3.2 per cent and comes on the back of upwardly revised growth in 2015-16, showing the ACT's economy is undergoing a sustained expansion.

Canberrans are the wealthiest Australians

So, what does this mean for the average Canberra household?

Despite Federal public sector wage freezes and attempts to move agencies to marginal electorates, gross household disposable income per capita grew by 4.5 per cent over 2016-17 to reach $91,627.

Canberrans continue to be the wealthiest in the country, with our per capita disposable income now 93 per cent higher than the Australian average.

So we’re the wealthiest Australians – but that doesn’t mean much unless we can be the healthiest and happiest, too.

And a large part of our uniquely Australian sense of happiness comes from owning our own home.

Job security and better housing supply have put home ownership within reach for more Canberrans.

Through the year to September, the number of housing finance commitments for owner occupiers increased by 23.9 per cent and the number of first home buyers entering the market has been well above the five-year average.

First home buyers have risen from below 15 per cent of new home loans in September 2015 to above 20 per cent in September 2017.

The Government has been doing its part by ramping up new land and housing supply. In the 10 years between 2001 and 2011 the ACT added 7,148 new freestanding homes; but in just the five years between 2011 and 2016 we added 6,988 new homes – almost the same number in half the time.

This has led to moderation in housing prices. While ACT property prices grew by an average of 10.1 per cent a year between 2000 and 2011, over the past five years they have only grown 1.5 per cent a year.

This has given our young people a chance to grab hold of a property that’s right for them, and given them the chance to work their way up to suit their family circumstances.

This is a chance that is denied to most young people and couples in Sydney and Melbourne.

Canberra’s 2017 has been one of excitement, growth, and confidence.

We are confident of our place in Australia and the world. We are excited to be leading Australia in progressive values as showing how to successfully transform into a 21st century economy.

And we have set the platform and the challenge to make 2018 even better, for every Canberran.

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