Gold Coast economy ‘turbocharged’ and tipped to outperform in post-pandemic rebound

Gold Coast economy ‘turbocharged’ and tipped to outperform in post-pandemic rebound

The Gold Coast economy is poised for a sharp post-pandemic recovery with new data showing the city coming out of the COVID downturn faster than the rest of Queensland.

And jobs growth is making an even faster comeback than the economy as a whole, according to the Gold Coast Economic Outlook report released by the City of Gold Coast.

The city’s employment market has grown at an average of 2 per cent a year over the past decade but it’s now expected to track at 5 per cent a year until 2024. This overshadows a healthy gross regional product (GRP) increase of 3.6 per cent a year for the next two years.

The report notes that while the Gold Coast generally follows national economic trends, it traditionally also grows at a higher relative speed to Queensland and the rest of Australia.

“In the short term, GRP is expected to lift from $39 billion to roughly $43 billion in the space of four years (to 2024),” says Bull and Bear Economics director Marcus Brown, who addressed a business breakfast on the Gold Coast on Wednesday.

“That’s a sizeable bounce back that will bring with it a consequent increase of local jobs from 302,000 to 349,000. Certainly, this is a level of economic growth is well beyond what could be expected for Queensland more broadly.”

Brown sees expansion across all sectors of the economy, with the Gold Coast benefiting from increased diversity with a maturing professional services and technology sector.

“The Gold Coast has a strong economic base that is turbo-charged by external stimulus from hospitality, tourism, education and service exports,” he says.

“I expect there will be a strong return in tourism activity, and we are already seeing a rebound there. There are also signs of strong recovery in education. (International student) inquiries have picked up among all the major universities, as well as regional universities and I suspect we could see a return to even higher student numbers coming out of the pandemic as Australia, and Queensland, plays a role as a safe and healthy destination.”

The economic outlook report finds the Gold Coast’s recovery is being led by arts and recreation services (up 47 per cent), accommodation and food services (35 per cent), retail trade (33 per cent), transport and warehousing (32 per cent), healthcare and social services (22 per cent), financial and insurance services (20 per cent) and wholesale trade (19 per cent).

Despite the gains, the Gold Coast economy is still lagging behind pre-COVID growth targets with the value of the economy set to be $2.42 billion, or 5.3 per cent, smaller than expected by 2024. The report also notes that this reflects a smaller impact from the pandemic for the Gold Coast than other centres, with the broader regional Queensland figure tracking at 7.2 per cent behind forecasts.

The Gold Coast economy this year will be 4.8 per cent lower than pre-pandemic forecasts, which is also below the regional Queensland forecast of 5.7 per cent.

In comparison, jobs numbers will be down by 2.5 per cent forecasts in 2022, easing to 2.4 per cent by 2024, both of which are lower than the expected shortfalls for regional Queensland.

The Gold Coast Economic Outlook report offers a preliminary snapshot of the city’s business landscape, with a more detailed State of the Economy report expected to be released in August or September this year.

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