Overseas and interstate migration numbers vary across mining states and non-mining states- Cameron Kusher

Overseas migrants show a preference for New South Wales and Victoria while interstate migration has leveled since the peak in commodity prices.

Last week the RP Data Research Blog covered the headline results for national and state population changes based on the recently released Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) demographic data which is current to the September quarter of last year. In this week’s Property Pulse we take a closer look at the change in migration flows on a state-by-state basis.

International migration into Australia remains strong as highlighted by the first chart. Last year Australia attracted 241,018 (net) new residents from overseas.

The states most benefitting from the level of overseas migration are New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia and Queensland. In fact, these four states comprised 92% of all overseas migrants over the 12 months to September 2013.

Annual number of net overseas migrants by state

If we look across the major states on a rolling annual basis over time you can see that New South Wales and Victoria have historically attracted the greatest number of overseas migrants.

Of course these two states are home to our largest and most well-known cities internationally as well as the largest employment bases. Given this it is no surprise that population growth into these two states has consistently been stronger than all others.

It is interesting to note that recently overseas migration to Queensland and Western Australia has eased while migration to New South Wales and Victoria continues to climb.

This slowing trend in the mining states is linked to the slowdown in the resources sector which is impacting Queensland and Western Australia greater than other states and potentially resulting in lower demand for foreign skilled workers.

Rolling annual number of net overseas migrants

The other component of state migration is interstate migration. Of course the net impact of interstate migration is nothing on the national figures however, it provides valuable insight into the movement of residents across state borders.

Over the 12 months to September 2013, Victoria attracted the greatest net number of interstate migrants (6,903) followed closely by Western Australia (6,841) and Queensland (6,724).

This was the first time on record that Victoria has had the highest level of interstate migrants. As the chart shows, there was a significant net outflow of residents from New South Wales with a net loss of 12,402 residents over the year.

Annual number of net interstate migrants

The fourth chart highlights that historically New South Wales and (to a lesser extent) Victoria have recorded a net outflow of residents.

The chart also highlights that historically these residents have moved to Queensland. Victoria is currently seeing a net gain in residents from interstate migration which has rarely occurred over the past 30 years.

New South Wales continues to see a net loss of residents while Queensland has recorded a significant reduction in the number of residents it gains from the other states and territories.

Perhaps most interesting has been the ongoing reduction in interstate migration flows into Queensland since 2003. The downturn in interstate migration flows into the Queensland coincides with the slimming in property price differentials between the other major states at about the same time.

With Brisbane now providing substantially lower housing prices that the other major states, we might start to see a turnaround in the Queensland interstate migration trend.

Rolling annual number of net interstate migrants

Overseas migrants have historically shown a preference for settling in the larger states. Given these areas are home to most major corporations and tend to have stronger job prospects it is no real surprise.

Interstate migration has reduced significantly over recent years. It will be interesting to see if we begin to see a higher level of interstate migration given the escalation of housing costs in Sydney and Melbourne which may drive residents to more affordable areas of the country.




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Cameron Kusher is Corelogic RP Data’s senior research analyst. Cameron has a thorough understanding of the fundamentals such as demographics, trends & economics. Visit

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