Look what’s happening to Australia’s population growth

Population growth is ramping up again and that’s good for our property markets

The September 2012 Demographic Statistics were released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics recently. The statistics revealed that population growth is continuing to accelerate in the lead-up to a Federal election.

With the escalating level of population growth a hot topic in the lead-up to the previous Federal Election, in the lead-up to this year’s election population growth is once again ramping up.

Data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) recently shows that over the 12 months to September 2012, Australia’s population increased by 382,481 persons.

The total population grew by 1.7% over the year however, annual population growth increased by 39.4% from 274,367 persons to 382,481.

Population growth over the past year was 54.9% higher than the long term average.

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At a national level there are two components of population growth: natural increase (births minus deaths) and net overseas migration (arrivals minus departures).

As the second chart shows, net overseas migration has ramped up significantly over recent quarters while the level of natural increase is at close to recent high levels.

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Over the 12 months to September 2012, the natural increase in population has risen by 154,491 persons accounting for 40.4% of total population growth.

On the other hand, net overseas migration has accounted for 59.6% of total population growth at 227,990 persons.

The third chart matches the population growth data with the more up-to-date overseas arrivals and departures data.

As you can see, there is a strong correlation between the annual number of net long-term and permanent arrivals and the annual net overseas migration statistics.

Based on the continuing increase in net long-term and permanent arrivals it looks as if population growth is likely to continue to increase over the final quarter of 2012.

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Across individual states the population growth story has been quite varied.

In percentage terms, the standout states for population growth over the 12 months to September 2012 have been: Western Australia (3.4%), Queensland and Australian Capital Territory (both 2.0%) and the Northern Territory (1.8%). On the other hand, the population growth rate has been slower in Tasmania (0.1%), South Australia (1.0%), New South Wales (1.2%) and Victoria (1.7%).

Population growth rates were at their highest levels since the 12 months to December 2009 in Sydney and Victoria, September 2009 in Queensland, March 2010 in the Northern Territory and December 2010 in the Australian Capital Territory. South Australia’s rate of population growth was at its lowest level since March 2012 and annual population growth into Tasmania hasn’t been this low since June 2001.

In Western Australia, the population growth rate hasn’t been this high in over 20 years.

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In absolute terms, population growth over the past year has been greatest in Victoria (94,837), Queensland (91,389), New South Wales (86,033) and Western Australia (81,694).

These four states account for 87.8% of the total population nationally but have recorded 92.5% of total population growth.

Overall the data highlights that population growth is ramping up and doing so quite quickly.

Of course this has repercussions across the rest of the economy.

More residents mean greater demand for housing and a requirement for more infrastructure such as roads, schools, shops, hospital, public transport etc.

Over recent years planning for population growth has been insufficient across all levels of government.

With population growth once again rising it is imperative that all levels of Government begin planning for a larger population and start investing in essential infrastructure.




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Tim heads up the Core Logic RP Data research and analytics team, analysing real estate markets, demographics and economic trends across Australia. Visit

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