Population growth is an important determinant of housing demand – to put it simply, more people generally equates to a larger requirement for new homes.
This article focuses on the broad national population growth figures which were released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics recently.
At a national level, population growth is fuelled by two factors: the rate of natural increase (births minus deaths) and overseas migration. At a state level interstate migration is also a factor in population growth.
On a state-by-state basis population growth has been strongest in absolute terms within Victoria (94,837), Queensland (91,389), New South Wales (86,033) and Western Australia (81,694).
These four states have accounted for 92.5% of total population growth over the 12 months to September 2012.
Across the individual states, only Queensland (12,104), Western Australia (11,091), Victoria (1,296) and the Australian Capital Territory (755) have seen a net gain in population from interstate migrants (ie more residents arrived over the state/terriroty border than left for other states/territories).
Over the year to September 20123, the net number of interstate migrants arriving in Queensland was at its highest level since the 12 months to December 2009 and Western Australia’s net interstate migration figure was its highest level on record since the time series began in June 1982.
On the other hand, 18,448 more residents left New South Wales than arrived over the year followed by 2,748 net residents leaving Tasmania, 2,541 net residents left South Australia and 1,509 net residents left the Northern Territory
As the above chart shows, the resource states are currently the largest beneficiaries of interstate migrants from other states.
Queensland has always been a significant beneficiary of population growth from other states, particularly New South Wales and Victoria, however, the rise in prominence of Western Australia is a relatively new feature.
This is likely to be a result of the resources sector boom which has occurred in that state over recent years.
The other side of the equation of course is overseas migration and which states reap the benefits of these new arrivals.
Over the past 12 months, 91.8% of all overseas migrants or 209,403 persons have settled in one of New South Wales (59,432), Victoria (53,996), Western Australia (50,613) and Queensland (45,362).
As the above graph shows, most overseas migrants to Australia have initially settled in either New South Wales or Victoria and based on this you can assume they tend to settle in Sydney or Melbourne.
Given this, the benefits (and costs) of overseas migration are not being felt right across the country but are mainly concentrated in the major population centres of New South Wales, Victoria , Queensland and Western Australia.
Based on all these figures, outside of New South Wales, those states which tend to lose residents to other states (or see a low inflow) also fail to attract a significant proportion of new arrivals to the country.
This has repercussions for the overall economic performance of these states as they lose many of their young and educated to the larger states which arguably have more abundant education and job opportunities.
On the other hand, a number of these states and territories are also failing to attract overseas migrants.
The reason being that these migrants also tend to be more attracted to the areas with better educational facilities and job prospects.
Perhaps some of the smaller states should be looking at ways that they can better attract new migrants to their state, surely factors such as cheaper housing in states like South Australia and Tasmania could be an attractive lure but there must also be the jobs and wages available to both attract and then keep these new settlers.
It may also help to stem the flow of residents that leave these smaller states.
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