Australian families have reconsidered their priorities in terms of lifestyle factors, relative housing affordability and job opportunities.
This is evident with the lifted net interstate migration into Queensland and Western Australia.
In fact, in 2021, the strongest population growth was seen in Queensland with 1.4% growth and Western Australia with 1.1%.
"Overall Australia’s population grew by 0.5% in the year, up from the lows of 0.1% in March 2021, but still well below the 10-year average of 1.6%.
The most populous states of NSW and Vic recorded 0.1% and -0.1% change respectively as net offshore migration inflows remained low and net interstate outflows accelerated.
Vic and NSW were also the only states to record population losses during the COVID-19 period with negative population growth seen in one or both of those states in six of the past seven quarters."
When Australia's borders closed in 2020 offshore migration turned negative as students returned home and were not replaced by a new cohort.
However, after a low point of -42,551 in Q3 2020 net offshore migration has gradually improved.
Ms Wilson said:
"The first three quarters of 2021 saw negative offshore migration of 32,743 persons and the opening of borders and cessation of quarantine requirements resulted in the Quarter 4 2021 number rebounding strongly with 29,145 positive offshore migration.
This Quarter 4 2021 recovery in net offshore migration was concentrated in the gateway states of NSW (52%) and Vic (41%) with only limited uplift in the other states.
This returned both NSW and Vic to positive population growth for the quarter and hopefully heralds stronger uplift into the future."
In 2021, only VIC and ACT were the only states/territories where population uplift was entirely due to natural increase with both offshore and interstate migration negative impacts, curtailing the total growth.
On the other hand, QLD had clearly the highest level of population growth in 2021 with a 75,579 person increase over the year.
This was more than 50,000 higher than either Western Australia (WA) which grew by 23,860 persons and NSW by 22,080.
As families review their lifestyle choices post-pandemic, interstate mobility sets a new record.
This is evident with net migration inflows into Qld, WA and South Australia (SA) totalling 60,430 persons for 2021, the highest annual movement of interstate migrants on record since the series began in 1982.
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Ms Wilson explained:
"Qld accounted for 83% of interstate population inflows with 50,162 net gain from interstate migration, the highest on record for the state.
WA, with inflows of 9,288 persons was also a record high and continued the turnaround for the state which had recorded outflows 2014 – 2019.
This level of mobility is unusual and reflected the strong relative performance of these economies during the pandemic compared to NSW and Vic.
Generally, the total level of interstate migration decreases during economic upheaval or uncertainty and is higher when consumer and business moods are more buoyant.
This link to confidence exists because interstate migration tends to be driven by not only the differential in house prices and lifestyle factors, but also the availability and stability of employment in the destination state.
High mobility during and after the upheaval of COVID-19 partly reflects these economic considerations but is also likely to be partly attributable to frustrations with protracted lockdowns in the larger states.
While the Qld and WA hard borders posed significant challenges for many people, the outcome of fewer lockdowns and sustained economic momentum has proven to be attractive."
Besides the level of growth, the composition of migrants is also important.
Ms Wilson further explained:
"For Qld, the net interstate migration gain is broad-based with gains across all age ranges.
A significant 17% (8,370) of net inflows in 2021 were under 10 years old with a similar proportion aged 30- 39.
Despite having the reputation of being a retirement destination only 18% of net interstate migration to Qld were 60+ in 2021.
The other state with positive inflows across all age brackets was WA – with their profile also skewed to families (0-9 and 30-39) but also relatively stronger in the 20-29 age bracket, reflecting higher worker inflows earlier in their career, potentially trade-based for the resources sector."
Evidently, population growth is a fundamental building block of the economy with each new member of society requiring housing and consuming food, goods and services.
With this latest data, it confirms a meaningful shift in the pattern of growth during the pandemic.
Ms Wilson concluded:
"It is as yet unclear how long this will persist, but the shift in momentum towards Qld and WA will underpin continued growth in demand in those states across multiple asset classes including childcare, medical, education, logistics and retail services."
Source of charts and commentary: Knight Frank Intelligence