Profile of a Robust and Resilient Economy

20 October 2023

The Central Highlands economy is proving to be robust and resilient in the face of escalating costs.

The region’s newly-released 2023 Economic Profile shows a 13 percent fall in Gross Regional Product compared to 2022 but the figure surpassed $6 billion for the fourth consecutive year.

Regional output grew by seven percent to $13.78 billion, primarily driven by a significant increase in heavy and civil engineering works.

Central Highlands Development Corporation (CHDC) CEO Peter Dowling hopes the data bolsters confidence for local business and industry.

“The Profile shows that our region’s economy has certainly taken a hit from the rising cost of wages, goods, and supply chain logistics but it’s managing to withstand those pressures by and large,” Mr Dowling says.

“So, while it’s been a tricky few years for many small-to-medium enterprises, solid economic conditions are there for business sustainability in the longer term.”

The Profile also paints a positive picture for workers, with the region’s dollar total of wages and salaries rising by 33 percent since 2021, and a very low unemployment rate of 2.8 percent.

“These are more indicators of a robust economy but the flipside to that is they help to illustrate the Central Highlands’ labour recruitment and retention challenges,” Mr Dowling says.

“Many regional and rural areas in Australia grapple with the same issue and there isn’t an easy fix.

“However, CHDC is part of a collaboration that’s driving a new workforce development program and we hope to release more information about that early next year.”

Other key information from the Economic Profile:
* The mining industry generated $9.33 billion, which accounts for 68 percent of the region’s total output in 2022, however there was a decrease in annual coal production over the past three years.
* Agricultural output increased by 32 percent in 12 months – from $566 million in 2021 to $747 million in 2022.
* Visitor numbers increased by 8 percent to 635,000.
* A quarter of the region’s workers are non-residents (fly-in-fly-out and drive-in-drive-out) but half of those live in other parts of Central Queensland, mainly Rockhampton and Yeppoon.
* The population is just shy of 28,600 and the median age is 34.

CHDC compiles an Economic Profile each year and it is free to access at