The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released its demographic data for the September 2014 quarter last week.
The data showed that over the quarter, Australia’s population was recorded at 23.581 million persons having increased by 1.5% or 354,605 persons over the past year.
The increase in population over the past year was actually the lowest increase in national population over a year since the 12 months to December 2011.
Looking at the components of the national population increase, natural increase (births minus deaths) accounted for a 150,721 person increase in population and net overseas migration contributed to a 203,884 person increase.
The 150,721 person natural increase was the lowest annual increase since the 12 months to March 2007 while the additional 203,884 persons due to net overseas migration was the lowest since September 2011.
As the first chart shows the sharp slowdown in net overseas migration in particular is having a big impact on the overall national rate of population growth.
Population growth greatest in NSW
Looking at population growth across the states, the annual increase in population was greatest in New South Wales (NSW) (106,365), Victoria (Vic) (102,021), Queensland (Qld) (69,423) and Western Australia (WA) (53,691).
Annual population growth was much lower over the year in South Australia (SA) (14,303), Australian Capital Territory (ACT) (4,403), Northern Territory (NT) (2,765) and Tasmania (Tas) (1,602).
Over the past year, 58.8% of total population growth occurred in NSW and Vic.
If you add Qld and WA those four states account for 93.5% of total national population growth. In terms of the rate of annual population growth, it is currently strongest in WA (2.1%), Vic (1.8%), Qld (1.5%) and NSW (1.4%).
Elsewhere, the rate of annual population increase was recorded at 0.9% in SA, 0.3% in Tas, 1.1% in NT and 1.2% in ACT.
Although the population of each state is continuing to grow, the rate of growth has slowed across the board
In NSW the annual increase in population was the lowest since June 2013, in Vic it was the lowest since March 2013, in Qld it was its lowest since September 2001 and in WA it was at its lowest level since September 2010.
Across the remaining states and territories the rate of population growth in SA was its lowest since September 2011, in Tas it was its lowest since March 2014, in NT it was higher than the previous quarter but lower over the year and in ACT it was at its lowest level since September 2006.
If we look at the components of population growth at the state level we get even further insight into the trends taking place.
Natural increase is basically a function of the overall population size and as a result natural increase is much greater within the largest states.
Over the 12 months to September 2014, the natural increase was recorded at 43,069 persons in NSW, 36,794 in Vic, 34,603 in Qld, 6,932 persons in SA, 21,210 persons in WA, 1,503 persons in Tas, 2,882 persons in NT and 3,706 persons in ACT.
Turning to net overseas migration, overseas migrants are finding NSW and Vic the most attractive states in which to settle.
Over the 12 months to September 2014, 62.0% of the net gain from overseas migration was recorded in NSW and Vic. Across the individual states the net overseas migration was greatest in NSW (69,601), Vic (56,772), WA (32,190) and Qld (28,878).
Across the remaining states and territories net overseas migration was recorded at: 10,304 in SA, 1,065 in Tas, 3,266 in NT and 1,798 in ACT. NSW and Vic have always attracted the greatest number of overseas migrants however, as the chart shows the gap has widened significantly over recent quarters.
The profile of interstate migration has also changed significantly over recent years
Qld has historically been the powerhouse in terms of interstate migration however, Vic has now taken that mantle.
Over the 12 months to September 2014 only Vic (8,455), Qld (5,942) and WA (291) recorded positive net interstate migration.
On the flipside, each of NSW (-6,305), SA (-2,933), Tas (-966), NT (-3,383) and ACT (-1,101) recorded a net loss of residents to the other three states.
This data set is published from 1981 onwards and over that time NSW has always recorded a net loss of residents to other states and territories however, the outflow is currently at a record low.
In Vic, the inflow eased slightly from a record high over the previous quarter.
Across the other states and territories, Qld net interstate migration is hovering around the lowest level on record, WA interstate migration is at its lowest level since September 2003 and the outflow of residents to other states and territories in NT is at a record high.
The data highlights an overall slowing of the rate of population growth which will undoubtedly have an impact on the wider economy.
Economic growth is slower than it has typically been over the past 2 decades and is extremely weak on a per capita basis, lower population growth may exacerbate the slowing of economic growth.
Dwelling approvals and construction are at record high levels, as we know over the past decade there hasn’t been an ample supply of new housing.
The heightened level of construction will go some way to alleviating housing shortages however, it would take a number of years of heightened construction to totally rectify the shortage.
Looking at the data, the rate of population growth has slowed and the fall has been most noticeable across net overseas migration.
Those migrants who are coming to Australia are favouring settling in NSW (Sydney) and Vic (Melbourne)
This is creating further demand for housing in these cities, so too is the fact that Vic now has the highest net interstate migration of any state and the outflow of residents from NSW is at a record low level.
Given this it is easy to see the impact demographics are having on the housing markets and why Sydney and Melbourne are seeing much greater housing demand and housing value growth.
Fewer people are leaving those cities, more people are coming from interstate and most coming from overseas are choosing to settle in our two largest cities.
On the other hand population growth has slowed significantly in other capital cities, fewer residents are leaving NSW and Vic to settle in these states and territories and they are attracting fewer overseas migrants.
With population growth now showing a consistent slowdown since the end of 2012 and new housing supply showing a consistent increase since late 2011, the gap between housing supply and demand has significantly narrowed.
It is reasonable to assume that higher supply levels and lower housing demand will eventually dampen the exuberant housing market conditions that are so evident in Sydney and to a lesser extent in Melbourne.
It is important to note that to-date the supply-side response has been nowhere near as strong in Sydney as it has been across most other capital cities.