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Contents >> Labour >> Interstate commuters (Article)

FEATURE ARTICLE 2: INTERSTATE COMMUTERS

The movement of workers across state and territory borders can have implications for how federal, state/territory and local governments plan and distribute funding, infrastructure and other amenities. This article uses data from the 2006 Census of Population and Housing to analyse these movements and relates to the main job of the individual in the week prior to the Census. Employed people who live in one state but work in another are referred to in this article as interstate commuters.

According to the 2006 Census, 101,300 people commuted interstate for work in the week prior to the Census, accounting for 1% of all employed persons. Of those, 62% were men and 38% were women. The age distribution of people who commuted interstate for work was similar to that of all employed people.


Commuting from...

In 2006, 4% of all employed people living in the Australian Capital Territory commuted interstate for work in the week prior to the Census (table 8.29). The states and territories with the next highest proportion of interstate commuters were New South Wales (2%) and the Northern Territory (2%). People who lived in the Australian Capital Territory were more likely to commute interstate for work due to its small size and the fact that it is surrounded by New South Wales.

New South Wales had the largest number of people who commuted outside of the state to work (48,300) followed by Victoria (20,200) and Queensland (15,500) (table 8.30).


Commuting to...

The Australian Capital Territory also received proportionally more interstate commuters than any other state or territory. In 2006, 12% of people working in the Australian Capital Territory were usual residents of another state or territory (table 8.29). These people commuted into Canberra from nearby Queanbeyan, Yass and adjacent semi-rural areas of New South Wales.

New South Wales received the largest number of interstate commuters (30,000), followed by the Australian Capital Territory (22,500), Victoria (17,900) and Queensland (16,900) (Table 8.30).

8.29 INTERSTATE COMMUTERS, Proportion of all employed persons(a) - August 2006

Proportion employed who commuted from  
Proportion employed who commuted to  
States and territories(b)
%  
%  

New South Wales
1.7
1.1
Victoria
0.9
0.8
Queensland
0.9
1.0
South Australia
0.7
0.5
Western Australia
0.4
0.6
Tasmania
0.9
0.5
Northern Territory
1.6
4.5
Australian Capital Territory
3.5
12.1
Australia  
1.2
1.2

(a) Excludes those employed persons who did not say where they were working (not stated).  
(b) 'Other Territories' excluded from analysis due to very small numbers.  
Source: Census of Population and Housing, 2006.


8.30 Employed persons(a), Place of usual residence and place of work(b)

New
South
Wales
Victoria
Queen-
land
South
Australia
Western Australia
Tas-
mania
Northern Territory
Australian
Capital
Territory
Total
employed
exited
Total
employed
Place of Usual Residence(b)
No.  
No.  
No.  
No.  
No.  
No.  
No.  
No.  
No.  
No.  

New South Wales
2 718 323
12 352
11 816
739
1 373
229
734
21 016
48 259
2 766 582
Victoria
13 297
2 141 997
2 617
1 352
1 344
416
586
625
20 237
2 162 234
Queensland
9 081
2 267
1 720 747
742
1 388
203
1 330
490
15 501
1 736 248
South Austraila
921
1 341
834
655 089
686
72
483
153
4 490
659 579
Western Australia
865
945
748
432
884 869
74
544
126
3 734
888 603
Tasmania
365
585
366
109
249
194 508
86
74
1 834
196 342
Northern Territory
191
197
298
149
389
14
80 942
44
1 282
82 224
Australian Capital Territory
5 328
230
188
47
79
10
52
163 524
5 934
169 458
Total employed entered  
30 048
17 917
16 867
3 570
5 508
1 018
3 815
22 528
101 271
. .
Total employed  
2 748 371
2 159 914
1 737 614
658 659
890 377
195 526
84 757
186 052
. .
8 661 270

. . not applicable
(a) Excludes those employed persons who did not say where they were working (not stated).  
(b) 'Other Territories' excluded from analysis due to very small numbers.  
Source: Census of Population and Housing, 2006.



Commuting flows

Table 8.31 shows that of those who lived in New South Wales but worked interstate, 44% worked in the Australian Capital Territory, 26% in Victoria and 25% in Queensland. The combination of these three bordering states accounted for 94% of employed people who lived in and commuted from New South Wales.

For employed people who lived in and commuted from Victoria, 66% worked in New South Wales and 7% worked in South Australia, both of which share a border with Victoria. This pattern was similar for most other states and territories. However, this was not the case with Western Australia. About 68% of employed people who commuted from Western Australia commuted to non-bordering states - Victoria (25%), New South Wales (23%) and Queensland (20%).
8.31 INTERSTATE COMMUTERS, Proportion from each state(a) - August 2006

Place of work(b)
New
South
Wales 
Victoria
Queens-
land
South
Australia
Western
Australia
Tasmania
Northern
Territory
Australian
Capital
Territory
Total  
Place of Usual Residence(b)
%  
%  
%  
%  
%  
%  
%  
%  
%  

New South Wales
. .
25.6
24.5
1.5
2.8
0.5
1.5
43.5
100.0
Victoria
65.7
. .
12.9
6.7
6.6
2.1
2.9
3.1
100.0
Queensland
58.6
14.6
. .
4.8
9.0
1.3
8.6
3.2
100.0
South Australia
20.5
29.9
18.6
. .
15.3
1.6
10.8
3.4
100.0
Western Australia
23.2
25.3
20.0
11.6
. .
2.0
14.6
3.4
100.0
Tasmania
19.9
31.9
20.0
5.9
13.6
. .
4.7
4.0
100.0
Northern Territory
14.9
15.4
23.2
11.6
30.3
1.1
. .
3.4
100.0
Australian Capital Territory
89.8
3.9
3.2
0.8
1.3
0.2
0.9
. .
100.0

. . not applicable
(a) Excludes those employed persons who did not say where they were working (not stated).  
(b) 'Other Territories' excluded from analysis due to very small numbers.  
Source: Census of Population and Housing, 2006.



In which industries do commuters work?

Interstate commuting is more closely associated with some industries than others (table 8.32). For example, the Public administration and safety industry accounted for just 7% of all employed people in 2006 but represented 14% of all interstate commuters in 2006. Similarly, the Mining industry accounted for 1% of all employment in 2006, but 3% of all interstate commuters.

The industries with the highest proportion of interstate commuters varied by state and territory. Manufacturing was the most common industry of people who commuted to New South Wales and Victoria. In 2006, 11% of those who commuted to New South Wales and 16% of those who commuted to Victoria worked in Manufacturing. In contrast, Mining was the most common industry of commuters to South Australia (13%) and Western Australia (19%). This is associated with the large amount of mining activity in these states. People working in the Construction industry accounted for 20% of those who commuted to work in the Northern Territory and 15% of those who commuted to Queensland, reflecting the high levels of construction activity occurring within these two economies with some of this construction associated with developments in mining.

In the Australian Capital Territory, more than one third of commuters (34%) came to work in Public administration and safety, reflecting the fact that this is the largest employing industry in the Australian Capital Territory, accounting for 32% of total employment in 2006.

8.32 Proportion of Employed Persons who Commuted to state/territory, By industry(a) - August 2006

Place of work(b)
New
South
Wales
Victoria
Queens-
land
South
Australia
Western
Australia
Tasmania
Northern
Territory
Australian
Capital
Territory
Australia
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%

Agriculture, forestry and fishing
4.5
3.3
4.4
7.5
4.0
7.2
5.4
0.3
3.5
Mining
1.0
1.4
3.9
13.3
18.5
2.8
12.0
-
3.1
Manufacturing
11.1
15.9
9.3
12.6
7.0
7.5
7.2
4.1
9.7
Electricity, gas, water and waste services
1.3
0.9
0.8
1.3
1.2
2.7
0.3
0.8
1.0
Construction
8.2
6.4
14.7
9.6
17.3
7.0
19.9
5.6
9.4
Wholesale trade
5.4
6.4
4.0
3.6
2.8
2.9
1.2
2.6
4.3
Retail trade
10.1
11.0
8.0
5.4
5.5
7.7
4.0
7.1
8.6
Accommodation and food services
8.3
5.3
9.1
4.3
5.8
5.4
6.8
3.8
6.5
Transport, postal and warehousing
7.9
7.1
6.1
9.3
8.3
17.3
5.4
3.1
6.4
Information media and telecommunications
1.7
2.3
1.9
2.3
1.2
1.8
1.1
2.4
2.0
Financial and insurance services
2.8
3.0
2.2
2.0
1.1
2.8
0.5
1.9
2.3
Rental, hiring and real estate services
1.4
1.1
2.1
0.7
0.9
1.9
0.7
1.2
1.3
Professional, scientific and technical services
5.3
6.8
6.3
5.4
6.4
4.7
3.7
10.3
6.8
Administrative and support services
2.5
3.3
3.4
3.5
2.7
2.5
3.9
2.5
2.9
Public administration and safety
9.4
7.6
5.4
7.1
8.3
5.5
13.3
34.3
14.0
Education and training
5.3
5.4
4.5
3.0
2.1
4.9
4.0
6.8
5.2
Health care and social assistance
8.9
8.5
9.0
5.0
4.2
10.8
6.4
8.2
8.2
Arts and recreation services
2.2
1.6
2.2
2.5
1.0
3.0
2.3
1.4
1.9
Other services
2.7
2.7
2.7
1.9
1.7
2.0
1.9
3.6
2.8
Total(b)
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0

- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)
(a) Classified according to the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC), 2006 (1292.0).
(b) 'Other Territories' excluded from analysis due to very small numbers.
Source: Census of Population and Housing, 2006.


In which occupations do commuters work?

In 2006, the occupational distribution of interstate commuters broadly reflected the occupational distribution of all employed people, although people in the higher skilled occupations were slightly more likely to commute than others (table 8.33). Those working in the Professional occupation group accounted for 22% of all interstate commuters, while they represented 21% of all employed. Conversely, Sales workers accounted for 10% of the total employed, but they only represented 8% of interstate commuters.

For almost all states and territories (except Western Australia and the Northern Territory), people working as Professionals formed the largest single group of interstate commuters, reflecting the fact that this is the largest occupation group among employed people. In particular, for Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory, Professionals were a particularly important group of commuters, accounting for 29% of people commuting to Tasmania, and 27% of people commuting to the Australian Capital Territory.

However, for those resource rich states experiencing high levels of mining and construction activity, the importance of Technicians and trade workers was apparent. While people in this occupation group accounted for 14% of all employed people in 2006, they represented 29% of workers commuting to the Northern Territory, 25% of those commuting to work in Western Australia, 19% going to Queensland and 18% of those going to South Australia.

8.33 Proportion of Employed Persons Who Commuted to Each State/Territory, By occupation(a) - August 2006

Place of work(b)
New
South
Wales
Victoria
Queens-
land
South
Australia
Western
Australia
Tasmania
Northern
Territory
Australian
Capital
Territory
Australia
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%

Managers
15.7
15.3
13.0
14.9
11.3
16.6
9.7
17.7
15.2
Professionals
21.1
21.2
19.3
20.3
21.9
28.5
19.7
26.7
22.1
Technicians and trades workers
14.8
13.8
18.7
17.7
25.2
14.3
28.9
11.7
15.8
Community and personal service workers
9.9
8.4
9.1
8.4
6.1
10.4
8.6
8.5
8.9
Clerical and administrative workers
11.5
10.3
10.3
6.1
6.0
7.0
5.9
21.4
12.5
Sales workers
9.3
11.2
8.4
5.9
3.7
6.4
3.1
5.3
7.9
Machinery operators and drivers
7.5
7.8
7.7
12.9
11.4
3.3
9.7
3.6
7.1
Labourers
10.2
11.9
13.5
13.8
14.4
13.5
14.4
5.1
10.5
Total(b)
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0

(a) Classified according to the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO), First Edition (1220.0).
(b) 'Other Territories' excluded from analysis due to very small numbers.
Source: Census of Population and Housing, 2006.






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