The nation keeps growing, and WA and Victoria lead the way
The Australian dollar may be sinking like a stone, but the population continues to increase, with increased population growth, according to the latest demographic statistics from the ABS. We take a closer look at some interesting findings…
Australia’s population growth increases
In the depths of the Canberra winter, the ABS released Australian Demographic Statistics, for December quarter 2012.
It shows that the Australian population grew by 1.8%, or 394,200 people, to 22,906,000 at the end of last year.
The growth continues to be very uneven between the states and territories, with Western Australia still growing amazingly fast, a 3.5% growth rate, or 83,000 people in a year. This is almost twice the growth rate of the nation, and more than 1% higher than the next fastest growing jurisdiction, the ACT (2.3%).
An interesting figure is shown by the absolute growth chart below – 93% of Australia’s population growth is contained within 4 states – NSW, Vic, Qld and WA.
Booming migration levels, particularly in Western Australia
Western Australia in 2012 added almost as many people as New South Wales, a state three times the size in current population. This shows the effects of the mining and economic boom. The biggest change is that WA is now getting a very large share of the country’s overseas migration, which traditionally went to Sydney and Melbourne. Overseas migration nationwide rose to 235,000, not quite as high as in 2009, but pretty high nonetheless (and still making up the majority (60%) of Australia’s growth.
In Western Australia, net overseas migration for the calendar year 2012 was 52,306, while the average over the last 30 years has only been around 10,000-15,000 per year. Evidence from the Census shows that many more are coming from non-English speaking countries as well, not just the UK, New Zealand and South Africa which have historically made up most of WA’s migration.
For a light-hearted look at Perth vs Brisbane growth levels (and when Perth might outgrow Brisbane) see our Perth vs Brisbane blog.
Tasmania no longer growing
At the other end of the scale, population growth in Tasmania appears to have stalled. While it fell through the 1990s and recovered through the early 2000s, adding around 4-5,000 people per year, in the last two years, Tasmania has added just 2,200 people in total, and in 2012, the growth for the entire state was estimated at 390 people. This fall is mainly attributed to more people leaving for interstate – The Apple Isle had a net loss of 2,650 people to other states for the calendar year.
Victoria growing much faster than NSW
Victoria added almost 100,000 people in 2012, 10,000 more than NSW, and in percentage terms Victoria grew by 1.8% to NSW 1.2%. The population estimates for Sydney and Melbourne (rather than their respective states) are not released on a quarterly basis, only for the end of each financial year. However, buried in table 9 of the publication is a population projection series, which suggests that on current demographic trends, the population of Melbourne will exceed that of Sydney, becoming Australia’s largest city by 2041 (and reclaiming that title which it lost in the late 1890s, about 150 years previous).
Populations rebased and recast back to 1991
Perhaps the most important thing contained within this publication is the “rebasing” of the population estimates from 2006 and earlier years, right back to 1991. This was due to the apparent discrepancy between the increase in Census counts from 2006-2011 and the increase in ERPs, which was itself due to a change in the methodology of the Post-Enumeration Survey, the way in which ABS assesses how many people have been missed by the Census. I will leave the detail to one of my colleagues to elaborate on, but basically, the ABS now believes that they got the population estimate too high in 2006 and has revised it down by about 247,000 people (we just lost a city the size of Wollongong from Australia’s population, but it happened 7 years ago!). When the local level estimates for this come out on August 30th, we can expect similar revisions downward for many local government areas, which should make the 2006-2011 growth figures match the Census counts a bit better.
And don’t forget that all the current year figures discussed here are subject to review after the next Census, so the ABS may change their minds again about all of this!