CATHERINE ARMITAGE August 04, 2012
Middle ground ... the McLean family are "very settled" in Kogarah. Photo: Wolter Peeters
Census analysis of incomes has revealed that Sydney's wealth is concentrating in smaller areas while low income districts are expanding.
The eastern suburbs and Mosman are getting richer, high incomes on the north shore around Chatswood and Gordon are contracting, and low income areas are expanding in the west and south-west around Bankstown, Auburn and Yagoona.
Professor Bob Birrell of Monash University points to a growing spread of modest to low-income households, with incomes ranging from 10 to 40 per cent below the Sydney median, in a contiguous belt in west and south-western Sydney.
He said the degree of wealth concentration by area was increasing due to the scarcity of housing. ''Those at the lower end will be forced to locate in cheaper housing areas so you are getting a consolidation of wealth and low income at the two ends of the spectrum,'' he said.
But Kogarah and its surrounds in the south have been stuck firmly at Sydney's median weekly household income for the past 10 years.
Elsewhere the census has picked up big shifts in incomes by area. Leichhardt has joined the elite, with household incomes 54 per cent above the median, expanding by 26 percentage points, more than any other area in the past 10 years. Manly incomes tell an almost identical story over the decade, growing slightly less at 25 points to 53 per cent above the city median.
Places where household incomes are higher and growing faster then the rest of Sydney include Mosman, where the median weekly household income is now 70 per cent higher than the city median, and Woollahra and surrounds, where the margin of 65 per cent above the median has grown 12 percentage points since 2001.
Separate analysis of individual as opposed to household incomes by Andrew Tice, from the City Futures Research Centre at the University of NSW, has shown income premiums are easing around Chatswood, probably reflecting the growth of higher density housing there, and also in Gordon, Killara, St Ives and Turramurra, possibly due to people retiring.
Fairfield East is the lowest income area in Sydney, with a household weekly median of $881, 39 per cent below the median and five points lower than 10 years ago. Incomes in parts of Bankstown and Parramatta have fallen a further six to nine percentage points to between 67 and 70 per cent below the median.
The biggest relative fall of 18 percentage points was in the Hills District (south), though incomes there remain well above the median.
Lachlan McLean, 37, a superannuation manager and independent local councillor, moved to Kogarah from the Blue Mountains in 2003 in search of better job opportunities. He is ''very settled'' in a three-bedroom townhouse near the railway station with his wife Samantha, 38, and daughters Isobel, 10, and Isla, 6.
The household income, including Samantha's part-time sewing business, is about $2200 a week, compared with the Kogarah and Sydney median of $1460.
Kogarah is ''a middle ground between somewhere like the north shore and the western suburbs'', said Mr McLean, lacking both the silvertail sheen of the city's north and east and the west's reputation for problems.
Kogarah has a lower proportion of separate houses than the rest of the state and at 35 per cent, almost double the proportion of flats and apartments.