The Hunter region, particularly Newcastle, is seeing improved manufacturing employment and investment figures, according to the latest State of the Regions report.
In the coastal half of the Hunter, 23,295 people were found to be employed in manufacturing in 2017, compared with 21,499 in 2012 and 17,832 in 2002.
According to the report’s co-author Dr Ian Manning, manufacturers suffered greatly during the mining boom, but the latest figures show signs of a return to the traditional strengths of the pre-mining boom era.
“Manufacturers took a real shock during the mining boom but those that survived are real survivors,” Manning told the Newcastle Herald.
“It’ll take some time yet to convince people the exchange rate is back under control and it will be worth investing in again, but the fact that Newcastle has a manufacturing tradition and a fair amount of intellectual support for that, in addition to a marketing culture, are signs of it going back to its traditional strengths.”
While Newcastle and the Hunter have shown signs of improvement, the opposite can be said for its southern manufacturing centre counterpart, Wollongong. According to the report, the area has “failed to diversify out of primary metal smelting”.
The report also shows that manufacturing was the Australian industry worst-affected by the mining boom.
“Hours worked have fallen even more rapidly than in agriculture,” reads the report.
“Despite this, the industry remains the most substantial of the trade-exposed industries, generating more hours of work than either agriculture or mining.”