Employment levels are integral to the productivity and growth of the Kimberley economy, it is also fundamental in improving the quality of life in the Kimberley. Higher levels of labour force participation and employment results in greater levels of overall income and output for the local economy.

The unemployment rate fluctuated over the decade to 2012-13, recording a low of 5.1 per cent in 2006-07 and 2011-12. The Kimberley unemployment rate has been consistently higher than the State unemployment rate which is typical or regional and remote areas. The unemployment rate in the Kimberly has grown to 12.2% in 2015 which is double the State unemployment rate. The breakdown of unemployment by Local Government Area can be seen in the Kimberley Labour Forces and Unemployment table below.

Labour Force 

Labour Force

Source: Kimberley: A region in Profile 2014, Department of Employment with additional estimates by the Department of Regional Development.

Kimberley Labour Force and Unemployment as at March 2015

Population CentreLabour ForceUnemployed PeopleUnemployment Rate
Derby-West Kimberley3,99172218.1%
Halls Creek1,48949433.2%
Wyndham-East Kimberley5,30854710.3%
Western Australia5.2%

Source: Commonwealth Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations – Small Area Labour Markets

The region aspires to labour market outcomes that mirror the norms that apply across the State and the nation. Outcomes of this scale will transform the Kimberley both economically and socially. Transformational changes are required as outlined in the Blueprint.

The aspirational population in 2036 of 93,173 people will require an additional 34,000 jobs to achieve labour market participation rates that are consistent with the rest of Western Australia. The regions Aboriginal people will need to become more engaged in 18,300 new jobs.  The current and future population targets and jobs required to meet participation rates inline with that of the rest of the State can be seen below.

The Kimberley’s Future labour market analysis 2036

Jobs demand

Source: Kimberley Development Commission.

The following table illustrates the number of people employed in each sector as at the 2011 census. The Health Care & Social Assistance; Education and Training; Public Administration and Retail Trade are the primary employers in the Kimberley. The Blueprint and its key stakeholders in industry are committed to generating over 15,000 new jobs from the region’s comparative advantage industries. If employment in all other industries grows at approximately the same rate  as population growth, a further 18-19000 jobs could be generated by 2036.

Employment by Industry

Source: Kimberley Development Commission, 2036 and Beyond: A Regional Investment Blueprint for the Kimberley, 2015, pg.66.