The pace of population growth continued to ease during the September quarter of 2015, although there are quite wide divergences between the states and territories, according to new research.
The ABS's latest demographic statistics show Australia’s population reached 23.86 million at the end of September 2015. This was an increase of around 313,000 people over the year to September and amounts to 1.3 per cent annual growth.
Net overseas migration (incoming minus outgoing migrants) resulted in an additional 167,652 people during the year, but this number was down by 7.0 per cent compared with the corresponding period a year earlier. Natural population growth (births minus deaths) resulted in an increase in the population of 145,585 people, this represents a decline of 7.7 per cent on the year ago level.
“Geographic variations in economic performance have a significant impact on the flow of migration, internally within Australia and internationally,” said HIA Economist Geordan Murray.
“Between 2007 and 2010, our economy remained in good shape while other developed economies fell into recession. As a consequence, Australia was a particularly attractive place to be and we saw population growth accelerate, and a strong flow of migration continued on throughout the mining boom. With improving economic conditions in the US, and in a number of European economies in spite of geopolitical issues, migration to Australia has become less attractive.
“As a consequence, the tide has turned and the flow of inward migration has now dropped to the lowest level in a decade. Given the impending problems that are expected to arise in Australia as baby boomers exit the workforce, workforce numbers will need to be replenished. A strong migration flow is the key to this. Policy makers must ensure that Australia remains an attractive place for would-be migrants.
“We can see a similar situation playing out in interstate migration flows. The party is over in the mining states, and WA, QLD and the NT have seen growth from overseas migration slow to a trickle, and in the case of WA and NT, there are now more people heading interstate than there are arriving.
“This has been a huge benefit for Victoria and New South Wales, which have both seen population growth remain very strong. Victoria had the fastest growing population with 1.7 per cent growth, and NSW was slightly slower with growth of 1.4 per cent.
“It is no coincidence that the two states enjoying the strongest performing economies, which are also the two healthiest construction markets, are those with the fastest growing populations."