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  • Writer's pictureEdwin and George

EGM Insights: We’re backing Adelaide

EGM On A Mission: Let’s Build Better Companies

‘South Australia (SA) and Adelaide have had a remarkable run through the pandemic.

Part of that has been better news on the ‘people power’ front, with more arrivals from the rest of the nation. And some of that may stick: if working from home is a structural shift, then why work from home in crowded and expensive Sydney or Melbourne? Adelaide awaits.’ (1)

We’re backing Adelaide.

But there’s work to be done:

SA has regained the unwanted mantle of having the highest unemployment rate in the nation at 5.1 per cent (Australia – 4.6 per cent) following the release of Australian Bureau of Statistics jobs data for September.

‘The rise in the jobless rate sees SA regain the mantle of Australia’s highest unemployment rate – a tag it has held for six of the nine months reported so far this year – but not since June’ . (2)

The figures are misleading.

The low national unemployment rate reflects reduced participation during the recent lockdowns (people pilling out of the jobs market and not looking) - rather than a strong market.

The participation rate hit a 15-month low, with just 64.5 per cent of people aged 16 and over currently working or looking for work. Put simply, more people fell out of the labour force.’ (3)

SA bucked the trend – a record number of hours worked – and a higher numbers of people in employment. (4)

‘SA employers have 18,000 job vacancies -the growth in jobs since the depth of the COVID shock highlights the importance of SA avoiding the extended economic shutdowns that have wreaked havoc in New South Wales, Victoria and the ACT.’ (5)

And over the next twelve months the economy will expand.

The National Australia Bank forecasts growth of 4.2 per cent for SA in 2021-22 - the second strongest in Australia. (6)

All at a time when – along with the whole nation – SA and Adelaide are experiencing incredibly difficult times – with huge changes taking place.

The pandemic has transformed the way we work – the impacts of greater flexibility and home working are potentially enormous.

More than 100,000 people work in Adelaide’s CBD evert day - any long-term reduction in the number of office workers threatens retailers and businesses dependent on them.

  • Research in February 2021 found that 41 per cent of Australians in a job had worked from home two days a week or more - compared to 24 per cent before the pandemic. (7)

The make-up of the CBD could alter dramatically.

Many of the changes have been emerging for some time - the Adelaide CBD of 2021 is very different in its buildings, businesses and streetscapes compared to 2001 - which in turn was a remarkable transformation from 1981.

Along the way Adelaide has lost its image as a ‘big country town.’

The pandemic will accelerate transformation.

But Adelaide’s CBD is neither dead - nor in terminal decline.

The challenge for businesses and governments is to craft a future for our CBD that acknowledges the need for change - building on Adelaide’s strengths to shape a more prosperous future.

There are great opportunities:

Centre of innovation

A key driver of growth for Adelaide’s CBD will be its role as a centre of innovation.

The success of Lot 14 will accelerate Adelaide’s development - with new technology and disruptive business models. Already home to 1,000 people, the plan is to attract more global companies, startups and organisations from the hi-tech, space, defence and creative industries. Google, Amazon and Microsoft are now represented.

Leisure, sport and tourism

Leisure, sport and tourism contribute strongly to the success of Adelaide’s CBD.

Developments at the Adelaide Oval, further investment in and around the Festival Centre and the establishment of the new museum of Aboriginal culture will add to the attractiveness of the city as a destination.


While the pandemic has seen a fall in international student arrivals, there’s every indication they will return in numbers once borders have opened and air travel resumes.

Major educational institutions and research hubs will expand as a source of employment over the coming decade.


Adelaide is about to be further propelled forward by massive defence deals - including a A$5.1-billion contract to upgrade destroyers from 2024 and new plans to build nuclear-powered submarines from 2026.

Defence spending will be more than A$90 billion and will increase the state GDP up by more than 3 per cent alone —it’s like a mini mining boom. (8)

The promise of new jobs, along with the 760ha green belt around the city, is promoting population growth - and all the opportunities that come with it. (9)

  1. Recovery delayed, not derailed, Deloitte Access Economics Business Outlook: October 2021

  2. State jobless rate nation's highest, In Daily, 14 October 2021

  3. Unemployment edges up as thousands give up on looking for work during lockdowns, ABC News, 14 October 2021

  4. ABS figures show people working more hours in SA., 14 October 2021

  5. ABS figures show people working more hours in SA., 14 October 2021

  6. The Forward View – Australia: August 2021, National Australia Bank, 11 August 2021

  7. Australian Bureau of Statistics, A year of COVID-19 and Australians work from home more, 7 March 2021

  8. Adelaide shaking off small city status, Urban Developer, 9 October 2021

  9. Adelaide shaking off small city status, Urban Developer, 9 October 2021

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