The City of Karratha is the powerhouse of the Pilbara, which accounts for 23% of WA’s Gross State Product. Continued growth is forecasted with strong demand from across the globe for local resources. Major private sector investments, high wages and housing construction rates are all indicative of confidence in the local economy.
The resource extraction industry is the mainstay of the Pilbara economy totalling more than $45 billion worth of exports. While the City of Karratha is only a small proportion of this, it is one of the region’s major service and extraction hubs where port, rail, government and industry intersect.
There are three major resource companies operating in the City (Rio Tinto, Woodside Energy Ltd and Citic Pacific Mining). Each company is currently operating or rolling-out mining and energy extraction infrastructure investments worth an estimated $69 billion. The most significant include the Woodside operated North West Shelf Venture, Woodside’s Pluto project, Rio Tinto’s expansion of Dampier Port, Cape Lambert Port and CP Mining plans for Cape Preston. A total of more than 22,000 construction jobs and 4,000 permanent jobs are to be created from these projects.
As would be expected in a resource oriented economy, the vast majority of people are employed in the minerals and energy sector. However, compared to the rest of the Pilbara, the proportion is lower, reflecting the relatively diverse local economy and service-oriented nature of the region’s towns and settlements. Most people are employed as tradespeople, labourers and in the production process. There are, however, more professionals in the region compared to rest of the Pilbara.
Major construction projects and expanded operations has seen significant demand for labour, resulting in high wages and a consistently lower unemployment
rate than elsewhere in Australia.
The median household weekly income in Karratha is $2078; double that of the Perth Metropolitan area (Source: ABS, 2006).