40,000 jobs from Caloundra South development?

The report in the Courier-Mail this morning Caloundra South Estate to bring 40,000 jobs to Sunshine Coast appears so over-the-top you know something must be wrong with it. Based on the public environment report Urbis has prepared for Stockland (the developer), the commercial and industrial activities in Caloundra South would employ 19,515 people. This appears to have some scientific basis, as Urbis has considered the expected land use and employees per square metre of gross floor area for different activity types. Of course, a similar development elsewhere might provide commercial/industrial space to employ similar numbers of people, so it’s unclear whether there’s anything special about the Caloundra South development.

The 40,000 jobs estimate was obtained through the magic of multipliers (a phrase I’ve borrowed from KS at Loose Change), with Urbis estimating another 19,500 jobs would be created outside of Caloundra South through impacts on supply chains and additional spending resulting from the jobs in the area. But multipliers are only meaningful when you’re analysing the short-term impacts of spending in a depressed economy. Otherwise they’re pretty meaningless and create confusion.

Sure, the commercial activities and spending associated with the 19,515 jobs at Caloundra South will support businesses and jobs elsewhere in the Sunshine Coast and Queensland, but likewise economic activity elsewhere is supporting businesses and jobs in Caloundra South. The economy is a massive web of inter-connected businesses and workers. There would be nothing special about the economic contribution of Caloundra South.

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