Living in the land of plenty - Orange

ORANGE residents are younger and earn more than their surrounding counterparts, according to a recent study.

The Orange City Council-commissioned report found unemployment was lower than the state average.

It also showed a growing population, with a younger age profile than surrounding areas. Workers also earn 9 per cent more than those in other regional areas, on average.

Of the businesses that contributed to the study, 78 per cent felt their performance would be maintained or improved in the next year. Only 7 per cent reported a lack of commercial and industrial space.

Orange Business Chamber president Tony Healey said Orange’s agricultural, health and university facilities, climate and three-hour distance from Sydney made it attractive.

“Sydney is getting so tight and here, you can move out of Sydney and get government grants,” he said.

He said increasing businesses’ online skills could also increase performance and confidence.

“You can’t sit on your laurels - you have to grow and get bigger,” he said.

But transport operator Ron Finemore said low unemployment also presented challenges when it came to sourcing drivers.

“It can be hard to get employees because we’re in competition with the mines,” he said.

Mr Finemore believes the impact of the Electrolux plant closure in 2016 and the winding down of construction at the Newcrest mine had yet to be felt.

“It possibly hasn’t flowed through into the local economy yet,” he said.

“I think one of the things that council’s got to do is make sure they’re planning ahead.” 

Orange mayor John Davis said Electrolux’s anticipated closure would be a challenge, but the data showed the region was not over reliant on any one sector.

“There’s the possible new private hospital, there’s a new aged facility, there’s millions of dollars being spent and we hope that we can continue to expand,” he said.

Cr Davis said he was “quietly confident” Orange’s economy would still be expanding in 18 months’ time.

“If you do lose your job, Orange is one of the better places to do that because it’s a growing regional city - you can’t guarantee you’ll walk into the same job, but there is opportunity at the present time.”

Jobs, money and rock-and-roll

In the September quarter of 2013, the unemployment rate in Orange was 4.3 per cent, in comparison to 5.9 per cent in NSW. In 2010-11, the average taxable income among Orange residents was $59,690 - the regional NSW average was $56,680. According the 2011 census, the average age for Orange residents is 37.4 years, compared with 40.6 years in NSW. The census also estimated the average weekly household income in Orange at $1481, 15 per cent higher than regional NSW on average. Across NSW, retail income from food and liquor increased between December 2011 and December 2013, however household goods, books and newspapers fell.

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