AHURI BRIEF

How far are people travelling to work in Australia’s capital cities?

Lower income central city workers have to travel a greater distance to work than those who are employed elsewhere in the city

Between 19 per cent and 26 per cent of all high income metro jobs are located in the central city. This increases the demand among high-income households for housing that is close to the central city, which in turn pushes up the prices of that housing.

In Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, high-income central city workers can afford to live closer to their workplace, and therefore travel less distance to work than middle or lower income central city workers. Indeed, high income workers have very similar travel distances regardless of whether they are a central city worker of not.

In these five Australian cities, lower income central city workers have to travel a greater distance to work than lower income workers who are employed elsewhere in the city. The situation is very similar for middle income workers, who often have to travel even further than lower income workers to their central city jobs.

Figure 1: Average distance to work in kilometres by income level for central city workers, 2011.

Source: AHURI Final Report No.261 Housing affordability, central city economic productivity and the lower income labour market

Figure 2: Average distance to work in kilometres by income level for all city workers, 2011.

Source: AHURI Final Report No.261 Housing affordability, central city economic productivity and the lower income labour market

[In this context lower income approximates people earning in bottom 40 per cent of Australia’s income distribution (up to $799 per week, in $2011) middle income those earning between 40 per cent and 80 per cent ($800–$1499 per week); and high income those earning above 80 per cent (above $1500 per week).]