Population growth slowing but still high
Australia’s population grew in the year ended June 2011 to 22,620,600 people, a growth of 320,800 for the year (1.4%). This is the lowest growth for any year since 2005-06, but it’s still relatively high in historical terms. The growth isn’t evenly spread between the states, either. The surprises from this year include Victoria having larger growth than NSW, and the ACT growing faster than Queensland!
Just a few days before Christmas, the ABS released Australian Demographic Statistics (3101.0), which, among other things, gives the financial year 2010-11 population growth for Australia and States.
This chart shows Australia’s population growth for the last 14 financial years, with a big spike around 2008-09, when it grew by 456,000 in a year. This has come back down but is still relatively high. The number of building approvals, a major driver of population growth, is still relatively stable at about 160,000 per year. It seems that whatever the population does, we still build about the same number of new dwellings each year!
Western Australia remains the fastest growing state, with a growth rate of 2.4% in 2010-11. A surprise second is the ACT, growing at 1.9%, faster than Queensland!
In absolute terms, there is another surprise – NSW, though not high in percentage growth, generally adds the most people from year to year because it is the most populous state. This year, it’s been pipped at the post by Victoria, which added 84,200 people, 2,000 more than NSW – perhaps lending more support to the idea that Melbourne will overtake Sydney’s population in the coming decades.
So if Victoria has higher growth than NSW, and the ACT has faster growth than Queensland, what is driving this change?
New South Wales net interstate migration (normally a loss) is lower than it has been over the past decade. Just a few years ago, NSW was losing 25,000 people a year, mainly to Queensland. Now it’s only 13,000 per year. This is probably driven by the economic slump in SE Queensland, where most Sydney-siders move to. Queensland itself had a very low interstate migration gain, of only 7,500 people. And Victoria gained people from interstate too – which is unusual, but not unheard of for Vic.
In states like SA and Tas, most population growth is driven by natural increase (excess of births over deaths) because they don’t get much interstate or overseas migration gain. The ACT’s growth is certainly a surprise and seems to be driven by higher overseas and interstate migration into Canberra. In absolute terms, of course, the ACT makes up only a very small part of Australia’s growth.
These figures are now 5 years out from the Census, and will be revised when we get the new Census data in June 2012. Some may be revised up, others down. We’ll have to wait to see what the Census will reveal!