Employment density projections

Employment density projections

group of workers

A 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{1897c8b751ad578bd9a969480021909bcd327853590acbf66d5abd5e194cce96}. 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 SectorSq mtr per Employee
Creative Industries39
Finance and Financial Services18
Food and Drink22
Higher Education and Research47
Life Science (Bio-tech)33
Motor Vehicle104
Natural Resource-Based Industries23
Professional and Business Services21
Property Development and Operation30
Retail and Personal Services44
Social Capital53
Tourist, Cultural and Leisure105
Transport and Logistics111

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 CategorySq mtr per Employee
Service Industry44
Other Retail77
Health/Welfare/Community Services34

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

CategoryActivity TypeSq mtr per Employee
Mining Services
Iron Ore41
Other Mining28
Computing and Communication
Computing Services22
Information Services28
Legal Services
Primary and Secondary51
Specialist Training Schools36
Medical Practices25
Ancillary Health Care24
Medical Equipment19
Protective, Community and Welfare Services
Protective Services19
Community Services30
Welfare Services17
Performing Arts/Schools/Venues94
Churches and Halls37
Other Places of Assembly and Exhibition87
Recreation / Entertainment
Clothing, Footwear and Accessories – Retail44
Clothing, Footwear and Accessories – Wholesale64
Clothing, Footwear and Accessories – Manufacturing35
Hotels and Backpackers
Other Lodgings108
Printing and Publishing40
Jewellery Manufacturing19
Other Miscellaneous Manufacturing51

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 SectorSq mtr per Employee
Primary Industries/Rural200
Service Industry74
Shop Retail and Other Retail36
Health/Welfare/Community Services36

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 TypeSq mtr per Employee
Light Industry (Business Park)47
Warehouse & Distribution
Large Scale and High Bay Warehousing80
General Office12
Call Centres8
IT/ Data Centres47
Business Park10
Serviced Office10
Town/City Centre19
Food Superstores17
Other Superstores/ Retail Warehouses90
Financial & Professional Services16
Restaurants & Cafes18
Leisure & Visitor Attractions
Budget Hotels1 employee per 3 bedrooms
General Hotels (3 star)1 employee per 2 bedrooms
4/ 5 Star Hotels1 employee per 1.25 bedrooms
Cultural Attractions36
Amusement & Entertainment Centres70
Sports centres and Private Clubs65

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.

CategoryUse TypeSq mtr per Employee
Small business units32
High tech / R&D (non-Science Park)29
Science Park32
Warehouse & Distribution
General Warehousing50
Large Scale and High Bay Warehousing80
General (purpose built) Offices19
Serviced Business Centre20
City of London20
Business Park16
Call Centres12.8
Town/City Centre20
Food Superstores19
Other Superstores/ Retail Warehouses90
Leisure & Visitor Attractions
Budget Hotels1 employee per 2 bedrooms
General Hotels (3 star)1 employee per 3 bedrooms
4/ 5 Star Hotels1 employee per 0.8 bedrooms
Cultural Attractions36
Amusement & Entertainment Centres40
Sports Centres90
Private Clubs55

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 CategorySq mtr per Employee
Regional Retail5
Other Retail/Services12
Low-Rise Office14
High-Rise Office13
R & D/Flex Space12
Light Manufacturing9
Heavy Manufacturing
Government Offices16

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 UseSq mtr per Employee
Trailer Parks and Mobile Home Courts, High Density3317
Trailer Parks and Mobile Home Courts, Low Density9635
Low to Medium Rise major Office Use92
High-Rise Major Office Use20
Regional Shopping Centre237
Retail Centres (Non-Strip with off-street parking)235
Modern Strip Development215
Older Strip Development130
Commercial Storage495
Commercial Recreation415
Hotels and Motels127
Attended Pay Public Parking Facilities59
Government Offices76
Police and Sheriff Stations81
Fire Stations119
Major Medical Health Care Facilities104
Religious Facilities351
Other Public Facilities198
Non-Attended Public Parking Facilities108
Correctional Facilities593
Special Care Facilities272
Other Special Use Facilities255
Pre-Schools/Day Care Centres231
Elementary Schools546
Junior High Schools789
Senior High Schools922
Colleges and Universities586
Trade Schools258
Base (Built-Up Area)621
Manufacturing, Assembly, and Industrial Services248
Motion Picture and Television Studio Lots115
Packing Houses and Grain Elevators667
Research and Development307
Petroleum Refining and Processing2312
Open Storage833
Major Metal Processing10117
Chemical Processing222
Mineral Extraction – Other Than Oil and Gas3264
Mineral Extraction – Oil and Gas4305
Wholesaling and Warehousing362
Free-ways and Major Roads1194
Park and Ride Lots75
Bus Terminals and Yards249
Truck Terminals251
Harbour Facilities1420
Communication Facilities166
Electrical Power Facilities3113
Sold Waste Disposal Facilities2453
Liquid Waste Disposal Facilities1848
Water Storage Facilities843
Natural Gas and Petroleum Facilities697
Water Transfer Facilities10117
Improved Flood Waterways and Structures2870
Mixed Wind Energy Generation and Percolation Basin1760
Maintenance Yards307
Mixed Transportation574
Mixed Transportation and Utility8431
Mixed Commercial and Industrial159
Mixed Urban236
Golf Courses3401
Local Parks and Recreation618
Regional Parks and Recreation2734
Wildlife Preserves and Sanctuaries7494
Specimen Gardens and Arboretum3613
Beach Parks7636
Other Open Space and Recreation489
Irrigated Cropland and Improved Pasture Land31130
Non-Irrigated Cropland and Improved Pasture Land31130
Orchards and Vineyards26979
Dairy and Intensive Livestock And Associated Facilities14453
Poultry Operations2594
Other Agriculture1900
Horse Ranches2753
Marina Water Facilities571

Bradley Rasmussen