Neoliberalism and suburban employment: Western Sydney in the 1990s

Bob Fagan*, Robyn Dowling

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


During the past 15 years metropolitan planning strategies of the NSW state government have done little to address the spatial distribution of either employment or labour market equity within the metropolis. In the fast-growing outer western suburbs, the government has focused on attracting business investment to increase the stock of local jobs and to improve employment 'self-sufficiency' - a dominantly neoliberal policy framework. This paper explores a widening gulf between the reality of outer urban change and this policy framework by considering changes in the location of jobs and in the employment experiences of residents in Greater Western Sydney (GWS). Evidence is drawn from census journey-to-work data (1991-2001). While holding a majority of manufacturing jobs in Sydney, GWS also experienced continued growth of jobs in service industries during the 1990s. Yet the relative importance of employment in the city's fast-growth finance and business services sector still lags well behind that of inner and northern parts of the city. The focus on growing the regional stock of jobs has not addressed problems of labour market access faced by residents of particular localities and the goal of employment self-sufficiency has not delivered greater equity to outer suburban labour markets. A focus on sufficiency of access to employment for residents of GWS draws attention not only to regional stocks of jobs but also to the provision of social infrastructure and state-provided services to outer suburban populations as they continue to expand.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-81
Number of pages11
JournalGeographical Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2005


  • Access to employment
  • Greater Western Sydney
  • Local labour markets
  • Outer suburban change
  • Planning


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