Avid readers of my column out there (hi Mum) would remember Column 68 which was published in Weekender at the end of October 2014. In that column I introduced a concept that I called MONEY. MONEY was not what we normally think of as money, but instead it was an acronym for an index I created. The acronym stood for Monthly Opulence ‘n’ Economic Yardstick and it was my method of ranking the economic health of a city.

It is now 71 weeks later and I haven’t come up with a better concept and it is about time to roll out MONEY for Dubbo again – although I will base it over slightly longer than a month. I have made many assertions recently that 2015 has generally been regarded as the best year ever for the city and Council but, apart from it being obvious, I thought I should roll out some numbers to support my hypothesis. After all, regular readers will know my love of data and supporting information to substantiate claims made by any organisation.

Our population currently sits at 41,573 – a figure that has grown at an annual rate of 2.6 per cent since the last census in 2011. Tick one for MONEY – strong population growth and a figure well above the State and National averages which sit at 1.5 per cent and 1.6 per cent respectively.

Passenger numbers through the airport is another one of my chosen MONEY inputs and, on that front, we again saw strong growth. For the last six months of 2015, we saw an average of 17,241 passengers through the airport which saw good growth of 3.9 per cent over the previous year. My logic for passenger numbers feeding into MONEY is that Dubbo residents only travel by air if the economy is strong enough to allow them to do that and people visiting Dubbo by air is an indicator of more money being brought into Dubbo.

You will often hear economists talk about growth in the net worth of individuals on the back of increases in median house prices. With so much wealth tied up in the family home in metropolitan locations, you can see the logic in that. In regional locations, this is not so much the case but growth in house prices is still an indicator of a generally strong economy.

Dubbo’s median house price hit a record high of $325,000 by the end of last year which was an annual increase of 4 per cent. The other important indicator directly related to this figure is the ‘Days on Market’ number. A strong economy will realise relatively quick sales as there are many buyers in the market keen to snap up houses that are available. Dubbo’s current figure of 69 days is only beaten by Sydney and Canberra and on par with Melbourne but well ahead of Brisbane; Adelaide and Hobart. Comparing ourselves to capital cities is one thing but against regional cities this figure becomes even more impressive. The six other Evocities have an average figure of 146 days with the best behind Dubbo being Bathurst at 119 days. Other locations in NSW start to show an even better picture for Dubbo. Tweed Heads is 155; Coffs Harbour is 121; Mudgee sits at 164; Parkes is at 280 and Inverell is getting close to a year at 304 days.

Unemployment still sits at an incredibly low figure – currently 3.9 per cent which is marginally better than a year ago – which is even more impressive when you consider the rate across the nation is 6 per cent. That tells me that Dubbo can certainly handle more residents and they will generally be able to find a job. This is, quite obviously, a key component of a strong economy.

In line with population growth and growing house prices is our development approvals. In the last six months of last year, we averaged over 72 approved Development Applications each month. In the previous year, the average sat at 58 – this is growth of a staggering 24 per cent. The monthly value of those applications has increased by an unbelievable 51 per cent from $11.7 million each month to $17.7 million. This is all money that is being injected into our economy and the multiplier effect spins that around in circles to result in a very strong economy.

Space restricts how many other components I can list in MONEY but when you consider very strong figures in Domestic Overnight Visitors; Domestic Day Trippers; increases in average dollars spent per person per night; high motel occupancy rates; increasing retail expenditure; significant new residents through the Evocities program; strong numbers through the Dubbo Regional Livestock Markets and many more, the picture rounds out very nicely of a city forging ahead as a modern, progressive regional city. Just to add a cherry on top, consider more than $30 million recently expended or in the process of being spent on DCL Park; the Old Dubbo Gaol; the Troy Rail Deviation Project; the Dubbo Regional Livestock Markets; the Airport runway strengthening and the South Dubbo Weir and it is hard to think of a regional location in better shape than Dubbo at the moment.

Tell me what else you think should be in MONEY at mayor@dubbo.nsw.gov.au.

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