The Sunshine Coast is situated approximately 100 kms north of Brisbane, stretching from Beerburrum National Park in the south to Noosa in the north and inland to Conondale National Park – an area of 3124.5 sq kms. With an estimated current population of 351,000 (2021), it has the fourth largest local government population in Australia (behind Brisbane, Gold Coast and Moreton Region).

The Sunshine Coast has been the second largest contributor of population growth (9.4%) in Qld over the past 20 years. The Sunshine Coast is projected to have a population of 500,000 by 2031. (Source: idcommunity).

The Sunshine Coast is a unique region known for its coastal beaches and its diverse geological and topographical features. It has many coastal and rural communities, each offering a distinct lifestyle. Within these communities there are many diverse small businesses that combined contributes greater than 50% of all employment in the Region.

The Region contributed $20.9B Gross Regional Product (GRP) in 2020 (Source: RDA) and provides 144,819 local jobs with 160,299 residents employed (Source NEIR 2020)

Data from 2019 combined with the Covid environment shows that following changes to the economic composition and the challenges we continue to face in the Region are:

  • The Region was above the regional Qld average for growth prior to Covid with an increase in GRP4%, Jobs growth of 3%, population growth of 2.7%. However, continued population growth means the economy coupled with the regional skill levels being below that of Metro regions will be on the back foot in trying to keep up with employment demand and there is a strong risk of increased unemployment as a result;
  • Health Care and Social Assistance, Construction, Retail and Education are the Region’s top 4 employment sectors, with the heavy weighting on tourism being reduced, however;
  • there remain less jobs than residents, with the share of residents working outside the region increasing;
  • an aging population and the growth in Health/aged care could contribute to lower productivity going forward unless higher value services are focused on.
  • jobs continue to fluctuate based on the performance of the construction industry, with unemployment increasing after any the end of any strong periods of construction;
  • The need for reliable, fast and frequent transport connections across the region and inter-region remains critical to the success and growth of the region with major transport projects such as North Coast Connect and rail duplication becoming ever more urgent for the ongoing success and growth of the region and becoming increasingly urgent with the pending Olympic Games in 2032.

(Sources:  .id informed decisions, Australian Bureau of Statistics, RDA, Economy ID

Despite these challenges, there is enormous opportunity for the Sunshine Coast Region:

Health Care and Social Assistance has continued to growth due to the opening of the SCUH in 2019 and the aging population; education and training has expanded with the opening of new schools; projects such as the Sunshine Coast Plaza redevelopment ($440M) and Sunshine Coast Airport Development ($334m) have positioned the region well for both retail and tourism; and the establishment of a logistics food and beverage hub, which moving through its early phases and enables a further growth project for the food and agricultural sector; providing potential growth for the region. The SunCentral Maroochydore and the health precinct continue to have the potential to attract new businesses and with the newer working models brought about by Covid also enabling the potential to capture capital city relocations.

A 'New' Economy 2013 – 2031 summarises our economic direction and priorities.  The Economic Framework and priorities are reviewed annually and communicated to our members and the wider regional community.