Australia’s economy is not all doom and gloom: Here are five surprising growth sectors

Amid what you may be hearing about the manufacturing industry's slow and steady demise, there are a number of logical - but less often discussed - sectors enjoying staggering growth on Australian shores.

First SPC Ardmona, and now Toyota. The apparent queue of big industries players requesting a government bailout or pulling out of Australia paints a rather bleak picture for the country’s future economic aspirations.

While the focus has been on the manufacturing industry’s slow and steady demise, it’s worth noting it’s not all doom and gloom for the Australian economy.

The same set of ABS data that hinted at stalls and downturns in the manufacturing industry also indicates that there are a number of sectors where annual growth in jobs and GDP contribution vary from steady to staggering.

A couple of them are predictable. For instance, the mining and the IT sector have both enjoyed boosts in number of employees and incomes since 2006. Growth in these other sectors makes just as much sense, but they are less often included in the economic debate. The five infographics below highlight the latter.

1. Hungry? Thirsty? Australia's appetite for food services is growing


(Click to enlarge)

2. Somebody has to build and design all of those road and rail projects


3. Consider this sector's growth a Baby Boomer bonus for the economy


4. This is where all those school fees are going...


5. Can Aus Post keep up? Online retail is on the rise


There are a couple of points worth highlighting in these infographics.

First, we’ve included annual average wage in our calculations, which is impacted by a number of factors but mainly part-time and casual work. Note that the industries more likely to have these kind of employment conditions also have lower average wages. Use this figure as an indicator of industry wages, not the reality on the ground.

Second, looking at private schools, it’s interesting to see that employment has stagnated while income, wages and value to the Australian economy have risen quite dramatically over the past five years. Makes you wonder where all those rising school fees are going?

And finally, the data are a tad old. We used the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ latest batch of figures, but an industry's fortunes can change in a heartbeat amid the threats of regulation and funding cuts. The same data set shows that the adult and community education sector saw a nearly 50 per cent jump in employment from 2007 to 2012, and a near doubling of its value to the economy. But government cuts to TAFE funding late last year are likely to have jeopardised the sector and risk its status as a growth industry.

As for the future of these other industries, we’ll have to wait until the ABS releases its 2012-13 set in May to see if the trends we’re seeing to date hold up.

Got a question? Ask the author @HarrisonPolites on Twitter.

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