Population growth slows to lowest level in 5 years

Australia’s population increased by just 1.4 percent in the 12 months to March 2011, the lowest level since the 12 months to June 2006

October 7, 2011

Australia’s population increased by just 1.4 percent in the 12 months to March 2011, equating to approximately 312,000 people, the lowest level of annual population growth since the 12 months to June 2006 (303,089).

Analysis of ABS data by RP Data research analyst Cameron Kusher shows that in percentage terms, it is also the lowest annual rate of population growth since the 12 months to December 2005 (1.4 percent).

He says that despite the slowdown, population growth is still tracking well above the long-term average rate of growth (254,561) over the year. The long-term average is measured since 1981.

Kusher says net overseas migration slowed over the March 2011 quarter. However, he notes that with increases to migration, particularly skilled migration, announced in the federal budget, we may see a reversal of these trends over the coming year.

Across the individual states, NSW recorded the greatest increase in population in raw number terms, up 82,134 persons over the past 12 months.

In percentage terms, NSW’ population is growing by just 1.1 percent over the year compared with Western Australia where the population growth of 50,962 persons equates to a 2.2 percent increase over the year.

Looking at interstate migration, NSW, South Australia and Northern Territory are losing residents to other states, with the largest beneficiaries being Queensland (7,391) and Western Australia (4,996).

The outflow of residents from NSW is now near the lowest level since December 1998, while Victoria’s interstate migration is the strongest since June 2002.

Interstate migration to Queensland is now at its lowest of any period since 1981; while in Western Australia interstate migration is increasing again but below levels recorded between mid-2007 and mid-2009.

These latest results confirm that when people do migrate from overseas, their preference is to settle in the more populated states such as NSW, which captured 29.9 percent of all overseas migrants, followed by Victoria (27.3 percent), Queensland (18.4 percent) and Western Australia (16.4 percent).

Collectively, these four states accounted for 92 percent of net overseas migration.

Kusher says that, overall, this recent data shows that Australia's rate of population growth is slowing, however, in raw number terms it remains well above the long-term average level.

"Australian’s are now showing a decreased propensity to move interstate and obviously this is causing population growth into Queensland to slow markedly after it had previously held the mantle as the strongest population growth state for many years," he says.

"From a housing market perspective, the lower rate of population growth directly affects demand for housing. A potential trend that we may see emerge is an increase in the number of interstate migrants, particularly from New South Wales and Victoria, heading to Queensland and Western Australia."

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