The major economic activity in the city is farming and fishing. This compliments with the key landscape of the city which is agriculture and the approximated 15 kilometer coastline which is rich in coastal resources. Trade and industry are closely related to the two major sources of economic activities.
The advent of cityhood in the year 2000, paved the way for the increasing number of commercial establishments and government agencies locating in the city. Consequently, employment opportunities became available. Migration to the city is also noticeable, brought about by the increasing livelihood opportunities locating in the city. Households earn an average of PhP 3,452 per month while rural households earn only about PhP 1,503 per month (based on the 2006 Local Socio-Economic Study).
Bayawan City has three (3) existing communal irrigation systems namely, Malabugas CIP, Mantapi CIP, and Tabuan CIP. One major CIP, the Bayawan CIP is on-going construction while two others are proposed, the Banay-Banay CIP and the Dawis CIP. These irrigation projects will irrigate an estimated service area of 2,500 hectares of agricultural lands. The major agricultural products are sugarcane, rice, corn and coconut. Only 2.3% (1,573 hectares) of the total land area is urban while 97.7% is rural and basically agricultural in land use. There are six identified watershed in the City namely, Bayawan, Sicopong, Ilog, Pagatban, Camayaan and Nalundan watersheds. These watersheds service the water needs of the six communal irrigation systems in the city and domestic potable water needs. The Sicopong, Ilog and Pagatban watersheds are also contributory to the water utilities of the neighboring municipalities and cities. In addition, part of the Bayawan and Pagatban Watersheds are habitat to the endangered spotted deer in Negros.
The proximity of Bayawan City to Negros Occidental makes it a vital social and economic hub that converge the political subdivision of Oriental and Occidental Negros. With the recent development on the Bayawan-Kabankalan Friendship Highway, which will connect and cut short the travel time to the Key Cities of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental, linkages on trade, commerce, education and social services are expected to improve and strengthen. These linkages are beneficial not only to Bayawan City and Kabankalan City but to the Negros Island as a whole although separated in two provinces, two regions, and diverse cultures.
The development direction and guiding vision of the City of Bayawan is to make it as agri-industrial center and learning hub for environmental best-practices. Practically, most programs and thrust of the City Government is towards this mind set of the Bayawanon officials and constituency. The city although still in her early state of city hood takes the lead in the socio- political and economic development in the third district of Negros Oriental. It is identified as a major growth node for the Province of Negros Oriental.
Majority of the residents of the city are farmers. Migrants to this place tend to excel in trade and industries. Some are engaged in fishing. With the increasing number of commercial establishments and government agencies locating in the city, which require manpower resources, a considerable number of individuals are employed. Migration to the city is evident brought about by the cityhood of Bayawan. Urban households earn an average of PhP 3,704 per month while rural households earn only about PhP 1,659 per month (based on the FLUP Study 2002).
National Roads are 58.2 kilometers in length and 15 meters in width, 19 kilometers is concrete while 18 kilometers is asphalt and 21.2 kilometers is graveled. Provincial Roads are 27.9 kilometers and 10 meters wide. 4.7 kilometers is concrete and 23.2 kilometers is unpaved with gravel filling. The city streets have a total of 12.02 kilometers with a width of 12 meters all of which is already concreted. Barangay Roads have a total of 516.19 kilometers with a 6-meter width. Concrete road is 39.52 kilometers; unpaved with gravel filling is 116.16 kilometers while the remaining earth filled is 404.94 kilometers.
Bayawan City has no commercial seaport except the existing fish port where commercial fishing boats dock and do business.
Telecommunications facilities are provided by SMART Telecommunications, Globe Telecommunications, Sun Cellular, PLDT and Cruztelco. Major national dailies and local periodicals are available in local newsstands and major business establishments. Two local FM radio operate in the city. Internet cafes, calling centers, courier, telegraph and postal services are also present in the urban center. These telecommunication facilities are highly accessible in the urban area while the hinterland barangays have very limited access to these facilities.
Coming to Bayawan City from Dumaguete City through the Dumaguete South Road, from Bacolod City via Hinoboan or via Dawis Mabinay one has to contend with air-conditioned (available only for Bayawan City-Dumaguete City Route) and non-air-conditioned buses of Ceres Liner of the Vallacar Transit, Inc. Ceres Liner also offers direct trips to Cebu City via Dumaguete City. Likewise, the popular vehicles for hire also ply the Bayawan City-Dumaguete City and Dumaguete City-Bayawan City-Kalumboyan Route.
Around the city, one can take the foot driven tricycle the locals call, "Potpot". Inter barangay trips are serviced by motorized driven vehicle called "Pedicab" or the two-wheeled motorbike converted into a convenient passenger vehicle. For farther hinterland barangays, one can take public utility jeepneys or motorcycles-for-hire locally known as "habal-habal".