Regional economy
  • Last updated:
  • 22 May 2019

The Sunshine Coast economy is one of the largest regional economies in Australia, with a current Gross Regional product of more than A$16 billion (2014-2015, AEC Group). The economy is predicted to grow in a strong and sustainable pattern over the next 20 years to reach A$33 billion in 2033, accompanied by an increase in high-value employment, export and household income.

The Sunshine Coast has been independently ranked as the second-highest performing regional economy in the State of Queensland for 2013-14 and 2014-15 based on average annual growth rate in population, employment and productivity (State of the Regions Report 2015-16, June 2015).

The average annual economic growth of the Sunshine Coast from 2002-2015 (4.09% per annum) compared with other major global economies (International Monetary Fund, October 2015) demonstrates the region’s economic strength and resilience. Economic growth on the Sunshine Coast surpassed the Australian average annual growth rate by 1.05% per annum over this period.

The Sunshine Coast is the tenth largest ‘significant urban area’ in Australia by population (.id, 2014). The region experienced a 10.1% growth in population over a five-year period (2008-2013), which was higher than the national growth rate of 8.7% over the same period (ABS, 2014). The region is forecast to have the second highest growth rate of major Queensland sub-state regions between 2011 and 2036 (Queensland Government Population Projections, 2013)

The region’s current population of 298,000 is projected to grow to 470,000 by 2036, providing an ever-expanding local workforce to meet the needs of new business and industry as new investment takes place.

The Sunshine Coast’s industry base has broadened over the past decade, with growth in new industries such as education, healthcare and professional services. The region’s top five industry sectors by total employment are health care and social assistance, retail, construction, accommodation and food services and education and training (.id, 2013-14).

In particular, the health care, finance and insurance services sectors have been key drivers of economic growth since 2006-07. 

For the nearly 30,000 businesses on the Sunshine Coast, commercial confidence is at its highest level in seven years. The region is experiencing the highest levels of business profitability and total sales and revenue of any region in Queensland (CCIQ Westpac Pulse Survey, December 2015). More than 60% of all businesses expect an increase in profitability in the first half of 2016, and 58% expect stronger performance over the same period (Boardroom Business Survey, September 2015).


The Sunshine Coast is just over one hour by road, north of the state capital of Brisbane and covers an area of approximately 2,291 square kilometres with 52.3 kilometres of open coastline.

The region features designated commercial, residential and industrial precincts as well as diverse landscapes from ocean beaches to green belts and pristine hinterland communities.

Positioned on the doorstep of Asia and the Pacific Rim, the region is well connected to national and international markets through its major transport networks - the Bruce Highway, the national rail network and the Sunshine Coast Airport - and is close to Brisbane airports and the Port of Brisbane. 

The Sunshine Coast has a range of notable education and research facilities including Australia's fastest growing university, the University of the Sunshine Coast. The region also hosts five private hospitals, four public hospitals and in April 2017 works to deliver one of the largest tertiary hospitals in Australia was completed. 

The Sunshine Coast Enterprise Corridor stretches along the coastal strip from the Sunshine Coast Airport to Caloundra South (Aura). The corridor represents the key regional location for commercial and residential growth over the next 20 years and is home to many of the region's 30,000 registered businesses.


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