The march of globalisation and the advance of technology are helping to add jobs near Sydney's CBD at a much faster rate than the rest of the metropolitan area, undermining efforts to spread employment growth more evenly.
Four in every 10 jobs created in Greater Sydney over the past five years were in one council area - Sydney City - a major survey of inner-city businesses has revealed.
Employment in the City of Sydney grew by 52,000, and an extra 2000 firms opened their doors in the area between 2007 and 2012.
The most rapid growth was in pockets of specialised, knowledge-intensive industries just outside the central business district, especially Pyrmont-Ultimo where employment surged by 46 per cent in the five-year period. The survey also under underscored how Surry Hills has developed into a globally competitive hub for creative industries with almost one in four workers involved in businesses such as fashion, design and film production.
With the flood of fashionistas, geeks, lawyers and accountants has come a boom in cafes and restaurants, with the number of people in new jobs up 70 per cent.
The number of restaurant seats in Glebe, Annandale, Forest Lodge and Camperdown leapt by 38 per cent, and cafe seats by 72 per cent, in the five years, the survey found.
The cafe figure came as little surprise to Phillip Christoforatos, who five years ago took over Astor Espresso on a quieter strip of Glebe Point Road, away from Broadway.
“Business was steady in the area when I first took over. In the last two years it’s really taken off,” he said. He pinpointed the Harold Park redevelopment as a key driver of people into the area, including coffee-loving tradesmen.
Committee for Sydney chief executive Tim Williams said the concentrated growth in knowledge-intensive industries was changing the city’s structure.
“We have to raise our sights and understand that globalisation is actually reshaping our city and we need to respond to that,” he said.
There were nearly 440,000 people employed in the City of Sydney in 2012 – about one in five of all workers in Greater Sydney. But those workers are being crammed into work spaces. The average space per worker in Sydney City fell by 8.7 per cent between 2007 and 2012 from 41.5 square metres a person to 37.9 square metres.
Professor Phillip O’Neill from the University of Western Sydney’s Urban Research Centre said the results underscored the resilience of Sydney’s commercial centre at a time when major Western cities have struggled.
“For three decades local, state and federal governments have put a lot of efforts into making the Sydney CBD a very competitive place to do business and those efforts are now bearing fruit.”
But he said the state government had failed to meet job targets in other parts of the city.
“NSW has very clear targets for jobs growth in western Sydney, equal to the jobs growth in the CBD, but they don’t take their own targets seriously,” he said.