Data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) earlier this week showed that the national population increased by 407,027 persons over the 12 months to June 2013 to reach an estimated 23,130,931 persons.
The increase in new residents equates to a growth rate of 1.79% over the year making it the greatest annual increase in raw number terms since September 2009 and the most rapid rate of population growth since December 2009.
Looking at the components of national population growth, 40% of the increase over the year has come from ‘natural increase’ (ie births minus deaths) (162,656) and 60% from net overseas migration (244,371).
Over the year, the rate of natural increase has risen by 2.4% compared to an 8.6% increase in the rate of net overseas migration.
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The high rate of net overseas migration is interesting, particularly when you consider the lower rate of domestic economic growth and a forecast of unemployment to reach its highest level since late 2002 over the next year. Coupled with this, employment participation is falling, just where and what all these migrants will do for employment remains somewhat of a mystery.
Breaking overseas migration down further, the data shows that there were 508,662 total migrant arrivals to Australia over the 12 months to June 2013.
On the other hand, there were 264,291 residents who departed from Australia to other countries, resulting in the 244,371 net migration figure over the year.
This indicates that we have gained almost double the amount of people we have lost over the past year through migration.
In comparison to a year ago, the total migrant arrivals were recorded at 478,763 persons and total migrant departures were recorded at 253,705 persons.
Looking at the individual states, the most populous states are the major benefactors of population growth in raw number terms.
The speed of population growth over the past year has been strongest in Western Australia by a long margin (3.2%) which is then followed by Queensland (2.1%), Australian Capital Territory (2.0%) and Victoria and the Northern Territory (both 1.8%).
The rate of growth only tells part of the story though, when you look at growth in raw number terms the major growth states are: Victoria (106,048), New South Wales (102,152), Queensland (89,862) and Western Australia (80,986). These four states combined accounted for 93.1% of total population growth over the past 12 months.
Migration is also an interesting statistic to track at the state level as it is broken down into both net overseas migration and net interstate migration.
As previously mentioned, at a national level net overseas migration has ramped up over the past year.
If we look across each state the story is somewhat different.
New overseas migration is dominated by New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia which account for 92.2% of all net overseas migration nationally.
The rate of net overseas migration has risen over the year in each state however, it has begun to fall in recent quarters within Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia.
Looking at net interstate migration, there has been a marked slowdown in interstate movements over recent years, most noticeable is the slowing of migration to Queensland away from New South Wales and Victoria in particular.
Although the rate of migration has slowed, Queensland still had the greatest number of net interstate migrants with 9,460 over the year followed by: Western Australia (7,992), Victoria (4,671) and the Australian Capital Territory (1,579) while all other states had a net outflow of residents to other states.
Victoria actually recorded its greatest annual inflow of interstate residents since March 2002.
The data indicates that the rate of population growth at a national level is strong and based on overseas arrivals and departures data it appears as if net overseas migration will continue to increase next quarter.
The vast majority of population growth is taking place in the most populous states of the country and unsurprisingly much of the increase is happening in the capital cities of these states.
Most overseas migrants are also choosing to settle in our most populous states. Finally, on an historic basis there seems to be much less of a propensity for residents to move interstate.
The propensity has been reducing for a number of years however, ever since the onset of the financial crisis interstate migration has reduced markedly.
The repercussions of these trends are that the populations of our most populous states (and subsequently their most populous regions) are continuing to see rising demand for homes and an increasing need for essential infrastructure.
Unlike in the past, Queensland is not seeing the significant influx of residents from interstate.
Given the strong growth in home values in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth over the past year and a half, it will be interesting to see if interstate migration to other states begins to rise in other states as buyers look for more affordable housing alternatives.
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