Employment density projections

Written July 30th, 2015 by

Group of WorkersA key metric produced from an urban growth model is the future projections of employment/jobs for the region being model. These employment projections normally inform the region’s strategic plan and are often quoted by elected officials.  It is important these employment projections are realistic and the employment density assumptions utilised by the model are well documented.

What determines employment projections is the Workspace Ratios (WSR) for various land uses supported by the model. The Workspace Ratio measures the amount of floor space per Employee/Worker. There are wide disparities in these land use Workspace Ratios. It varies from industry to industry, city regions (i.e. CBD vs outer suburbs), even county to county.

A study of Office Use in Australia by The University of New South Wales found employment densities in commercial offices varied from less than 10m2 per employee to greater than 50m2 per employee. This variance is over 500%. The average being 20.6m2 per employee. While this study was restricted to commercial office space, the same large variances exist with other non-residential land uses such as industrial and retail spaces.

Given these large variances it is important to ensure the urban growth model is configured with Workspace Ratios that represent the average for the region being modelled. In some cases, studies may need to be conducted to find the appropriate land use WSRs for the region.

To assist with this task we have taken the various studies from Australia, the United Kingdom and USA and summarised the Workspace Ratios from these studies in the tables below.

If there are other employment densities studies that you think should be included in this list, please leave a comment with the link to the study/report and we will include it in this post.


The City of Sydney, NSW Australia

City of Sydney Floor Space and Employment Survey 2012

The City of Sydney undertakes a comprehensive Floor Space and Employment Survey (FES) every five years to coincide with the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Census of Population and Housing. The FES collects data on all businesses, floor space uses and employment numbers for every building or property within the City of Sydney local government area.  It provides a snapshot of the built form, land uses and economic activity of the City every five years.  A summary of the Workspace Ratios from the report is provided below.

City-Based Industry Sector Sq mtr per Employee
Community 70
Creative Industries 39
Finance and Financial Services 18
Food and Drink 22
Government 36
Health 40
Higher Education and Research 47
ICT 28
Life Science (Bio-tech) 33
Manufacturing 61
Motor Vehicle 104
Natural Resource-Based Industries 23
Professional and Business Services 21
Property Development and Operation 30
Retail and Personal Services 44
Social Capital 53
Tourist, Cultural and Leisure 105
Transport and Logistics 111
Utilities 62


City of Perth, WA Australia

The Evolving City December 2009

An atlas of change in the city of Perth 1990-2007

This is the fourth publication in an ongoing series that monitors and analyses significant patterns and emerging trends in land use and employment in the city of Perth since 1990. The Evolving City is fundamentally a statistical publication accompanied by an objective technical analysis of changes over time. The following Workspace Ratios combines the floorspace and employment totals from the four precinct areas described in the report.

Planning Land Use Category Sq mtr per Employee
Manufacturing/Processing/Fabrication 31
Storage/Distribution 145
Service Industry 44
Shop/Retail 29
Other Retail 77
Office/Business 24
Health/Welfare/Community Services 34
Entertainment/Recreation/Culture 56
Residential 161
Utilities/Communications 54


The report also included a sector-wide analysis of activity types present in the city. The Workspace Ratios for these activities are summarised below.

Category  Activity Type Sq mtr per Employee
Mining Services
  Iron Ore 41
  Energy 46
  Other Mining 28
Computing and Communication
  Computing Services 22
  Information Services 28
  Telecommunications 28
Legal Services
  Legal 44
  Primary and Secondary 51
  Tertiary 104
  Specialist Training Schools 36
  Hospitals 29
  Medical Practices 25
  Ancillary Health Care 24
  Medical Equipment 19
Protective, Community and Welfare Services
  Protective Services 19
  Community Services 30
  Welfare Services 17
  Performing Arts/Schools/Venues 94
  Libraries/Museums/Galleries 32
  Churches and Halls 37
  Other Places of Assembly and Exhibition 87
Recreation / Entertainment
  Passive 0
  Active 26
  Entertainment 52
  Clothing, Footwear and Accessories – Retail 44
  Clothing, Footwear and Accessories – Wholesale 64
  Clothing, Footwear and Accessories – Manufacturing 35
Hotels and Backpackers
  Hotels 181
  Backpackers 82
  Other Lodgings 108
  Printing and Publishing 40
  Jewellery Manufacturing 19
  Other Miscellaneous Manufacturing 51


Town of Claremont, WA Australia

Claremont North-East Precinct Economic Review August 2008

The economic review of floor space, employment and expenditure within the Town of Claremont. The Town of Claremont commissioned Pracsys to produce this report.  A summary of the Workspace Ratios from the review is provided below.

Industry Sector Sq mtr per Employee
Primary Industries/Rural 200
Manufacturing/Processing/Fabrication 59
Storage/Distribution 174
Service Industry 74
Shop Retail and Other Retail 36
Office/Business 27
Health/Welfare/Community Services 36
Entertainment/Recreation/Culture 85
Residential 279
Utilities/Communications 62


Homes & Communities Agency, UK Government

Employment Densities Guide (2nd Edition) 2010

The purpose of this guide is to assist appraisers with employment generated by property development based on ‘employment density’ ratios. The guide is intended to be used in planning, appraising and evaluating of economic development and regeneration programmes and projects. The indicative employment density figures in the guide incorporate broad assumptions. Users should read the supporting narrative to understand how to apply the ratios. When development-specific information is available it should be used in preference to the indicative figures in this guide.

Category  Use Type Sq mtr per Employee
  General 36
  Light Industry (Business Park) 47
Warehouse & Distribution
  General 70
  Large Scale and High Bay Warehousing 80
  General Office 12
  Call Centres 8
  IT/ Data Centres 47
  Business Park 10
  Serviced Office 10
  Town/City Centre 19
  Food Superstores 17
  Other Superstores/ Retail Warehouses 90
  Financial & Professional Services 16
  Restaurants & Cafes 18
Leisure & Visitor Attractions
  Budget Hotels 1 employee per 3 bedrooms
  General Hotels (3 star) 1 employee per 2 bedrooms
  4/ 5 Star Hotels 1 employee per 1.25 bedrooms
  Cultural Attractions 36
  Cinemas 90
  Amusement & Entertainment Centres 70
  Sports centres and Private Clubs 65


London Borough of Waltham Forest, United Kingdom

Employment Densities 2001

This report gives guidance and references to assist the appraisal, monitoring and evaluation of employment densities for various types of property developments. It has been produced by Arup Economics and Planning for English Partnerships and has been supported by English Partnerships and Regional Development Agencies Best Practice Group. The Workspace Ratios from this report is provided in the following table.

Category  Use Type Sq mtr per Employee
  General 34
  Small business units 32
  High tech / R&D (non-Science Park) 29
  Science Park 32
Warehouse & Distribution
  General Warehousing 50
  Large Scale and High Bay Warehousing 80
  General (purpose built) Offices 19
  Headquarters 22
  Serviced Business Centre 20
  City of London 20
  Business Park 16
  Call Centres 12.8
  Town/City Centre 20
  Food Superstores 19
  Other Superstores/ Retail Warehouses 90
Leisure & Visitor Attractions
  Budget Hotels 1 employee per 2 bedrooms
  General Hotels (3 star) 1 employee per 3 bedrooms
  4/ 5 Star Hotels 1 employee per 0.8 bedrooms
  Restaurants 13
  Cultural Attractions 36
  Cinemas 90
  Amusement & Entertainment Centres 40
  Sports Centres 90
  Private Clubs 55


Southern California Association of Governments, USA

Employment Density Study Summary Report  – October 2001

The objective of this study was to derive employment density factors for use in the Small Area Allocation Model (SAAM) developed by the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG).  SCAG members are: Los Angeles, Orange County, Ventura County, Riverside County, San Bernardino County and Imperial County.    The study has estimated employment densities for ten major land use categories. The acres per employee metrics in the study have been converted to Sq mtr per employee for inclusion in the tables below. The following displays the average employment densities across the region for each land use category.

Land Use Category Sq mtr per Employee
Regional Retail 5
Other Retail/Services 12
Low-Rise Office 14
High-Rise Office 13
Hotel/Motel 4
R & D/Flex Space 12
Light Manufacturing 9
Heavy Manufacturing
Warehouse 5
Government Offices 16


The following table contains the employment densities of land uses that were consolidated into the above land use categories. It is important to recognise that these factors are drawn from a much smaller sample of parcel records and therefore do not provide the same “level of confidence” as provided by the regional land use categories.

Land Use Sq mtr per Employee
Trailer Parks and Mobile Home Courts, High Density 3317
Trailer Parks and Mobile Home Courts, Low Density 9635
Low to Medium Rise major Office Use 92
High-Rise Major Office Use 20
Skyscrapers 6
Regional Shopping Centre 237
Retail Centres (Non-Strip with off-street parking) 235
Modern Strip Development 215
Older Strip Development 130
Commercial Storage 495
Commercial Recreation 415
Hotels and Motels 127
Attended Pay Public Parking Facilities 59
Government Offices 76
Police and Sheriff Stations 81
Fire Stations 119
Major Medical Health Care Facilities 104
Religious Facilities 351
Other Public Facilities 198
Non-Attended Public Parking Facilities 108
Correctional Facilities 593
Special Care Facilities 272
Other Special Use Facilities 255
Pre-Schools/Day Care Centres 231
Elementary Schools 546
Junior High Schools 789
Senior High Schools 922
Colleges and Universities 586
Trade Schools 258
Base (Built-Up Area) 621
Manufacturing, Assembly, and Industrial Services 248
Motion Picture and Television Studio Lots 115
Packing Houses and Grain Elevators 667
Research and Development 307
Manufacturing 131
Petroleum Refining and Processing 2312
Open Storage 833
Major Metal Processing 10117
Chemical Processing 222
Mineral Extraction – Other Than Oil and Gas 3264
Mineral Extraction – Oil and Gas 4305
Wholesaling and Warehousing 362
Airports 1143
Rail-roads 1065
Free-ways and Major Roads 1194
Park and Ride Lots 75
Bus Terminals and Yards 249
Truck Terminals 251
Harbour Facilities 1420
Communication Facilities 166
Electrical Power Facilities 3113
Sold Waste Disposal Facilities 2453
Liquid Waste Disposal Facilities 1848
Water Storage Facilities 843
Natural Gas and Petroleum Facilities 697
Water Transfer Facilities 10117
Improved Flood Waterways and Structures 2870
Mixed Wind Energy Generation and Percolation Basin 1760
Maintenance Yards 307
Mixed Transportation 574
Mixed Transportation and Utility 8431
Mixed Commercial and Industrial 159
Mixed Urban 236
Golf Courses 3401
Local Parks and Recreation 618
Regional Parks and Recreation 2734
Cemeteries 3430
Wildlife Preserves and Sanctuaries 7494
Specimen Gardens and Arboretum 3613
Beach Parks 7636
Other Open Space and Recreation 489
Irrigated Cropland and Improved Pasture Land 31130
Non-Irrigated Cropland and Improved Pasture Land 31130
Orchards and Vineyards 26979
Nurseries 1936
Dairy and Intensive Livestock And Associated Facilities 14453
Poultry Operations 2594
Other Agriculture 1900
Horse Ranches 2753
Marina Water Facilities 571


About the Author:
Bradley is the founder and Managing Director of Sizztech. He is an enterprise ICT consultant with over twenty years of experience in the Information Technology industry. In the last eight years Bradley has specialised in delivering web based geo-spatial solutions that focus on supporting capital works planning and delivery. This has lead to Sizztech developing Forecaz Modeller, an automated tool that performs urban growth modelling and forecasting.

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