Sydney should look to Tel Aviv if it wants to keep its workforce

Businesses are struggling to attract and retain workers as Sydney ranks among the world’s most unaffordable cities alongside Hong Kong and San Francisco. A new study warns that the housing crisis is costing the city’s economy at least $10 billion a year.

As the New South Wales government tries to deal with the housing affordability crisis, some companies have reported that workers are moving to cheaper housing in Melbourne and are “flying” to Sydney, while others are struggling to attract young workers and graduates whose Prices are low to keep out of the market.

Sydney could face a talent drain if it fails to create more affordable housing.

Sydney could face a talent drain if it fails to create more affordable housing. Credit: Dion Georgopoulos

Committee for Sydney chief executive Eamon Waterford said drastic action was needed to prevent the city’s lack of affordable housing from eroding its competitive advantage and long-term economic success.

“It’s no small problem,” he said. “And that means the solutions will be bold solutions.”

The international benchmarking study, which the Committee for Sydney produced jointly with urban information company The Business of Cities, states that Sydney is among the most chronically unaffordable global cities in its own right, along with Hong Kong, the San Francisco Bay Area, Tel Aviv and Vancouver region matters.

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Sydney met the criteria for chronic housing unaffordability as the average house price had been more than eight times the average household income for more than five consecutive years; and more than 33 percent of tenants were experiencing housing stress, with housing costs accounting for more than 30 percent of monthly income.

Waterford said the report, released Thursday, estimated that Sydney’s lack of affordable housing robs the economy of $10 billion each year in talent, innovation and productivity alone.

“It means it’s harder to find and keep good people. We have fewer startups, we invest less in research and development. In our economy, people take fewer risks. The commuters take longer, there are more traffic jams. And companies have to pay more to keep employees.”

Justin Scaccy

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