CLARENCE Valley's latest economic report card is in and the diversity in the Clarence's economy continues to buffer global financial instability.
However the sun is not shining in all areas of the local economy with the housing and construction sectors continuing to suffer, demonstrated by a plummet in dwelling approvals over the past 12 months.
Down 22.1% from the level recorded in the year to the March Quarter 2011 (181), the number of dwellings approved in the Clarence Valley in the year to the March Quarter 2012 was 141, though the local decline in approvals was less than the average decrease for the Northern Rivers, down 32%.
The construction sector has been hit hard as the value of non-residential building approvals within the Clarence Valley decreased by 53.4% to $17.4 million, largely due to annual falls in both private sector (down 19.6%) and public sector (down 72.8%) approvals.
Median sales prices for dwellings in the Clarence Valley have also seen a lack-lustre result, experiencing an annual decrease of 11.5% dropping from $305,000 to $270,000.
Perhaps not surprisingly Mayor Richie Williamson was keen to celebrate the good news within the report, pointing to the highlights for the local economy which include continuing population growth, decreasing unemployment, and strong growth in gross regional product (GRP).
"The Clarence's Gross Regional Product, close to $2 billion, stands up well against the region," Mayor Richie Williamson said.
"It's only $8000 per capita less than the strongest region, being Tweed.
"This is a result of the strong labour market and the unemployment rate continuing to lower; down 0.6% on the level recorded in March 2011.
"The gap between Clarence Valley and NSW continues to decrease."
The economic report card also noted the value of the manufacturing industry to the region, contributing approximately $197.8 million or 10.2% of the total GRP for the Clarence Valley.
Public administration and safety accounted for 8.4%, health care and social assistance 7.3%, financial and insurance services 6.5% and retail trade 6.3%.
Meanwhile the agricultural, forestry and fishing sector experienced the highest annual increase in industry value, rising substantially by 43.4% from the level recorded in 2009/10.
The Clarence Valley Economic Monitor is produced by Clarence Valley Council and aims to provide key economic, business and social indicators.
A copy of the CV Economic Monitor can be downloaded from council's website clarence.nsw.gov.au.
Key highlights for the local economy in this latest report card include:
- Annual population growth of 316 persons, or 0.6%, to a level of 52,816 in 2011.
- Gross regional product (GRP) of $1.9 billion in 2010/11
- Annual growth in real GRP of 4.9%, significantly higher than the average for New South Wales (2.2%)
- Unemployment rate decreased by 0.6 percentage points over the year to the March Quarter 2012 to 6.6%
- Estimated number of employed persons was 21,207 in the March Quarter 2012, representing a significant annual increase of 418 persons, or 2.0%
- Total annual turnover of approximately $1.3 billion from slightly more than 4000 local businesses
- Gross rental yield of 5.4% for all dwellings, significantly higher than the averages for the Sydney Region (5.0%) and New South Wales (4.8%)
The objectives of the Economic Monitor are to:
- Provide a central source of economic statistical data for the Clarence Valley
- Assist in promotion of the Clarence Valley as a destination of choice for investment
- Assist private and public sectors to respond to challenges, needs and opportunities
- Provide accurate and informative analysis and commentary of economic trends and issues
- Profile major developments and future projects, and enhance the level of service provision to existing and new business.