When mining was booming, everyone wanted to be in Western Australia where the big money jobs could be found.
Restaurants couldn’t find wait staff, farms couldn’t get help and young tradesmen left their jobs to head north to the mines where a truck drivers could earn $120,000 a year.
One in three people living in Western Australia was born overseas, the highest proportion of any area in Australia.
And if you take into account those moving to WA from other parts of Australia, it’s more like every second person was born somewhere else.
Now, as the investment phase of the mining boom comes to a close, it’s a different story.
This chart, from the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre, shows the relationship between the price of iron ore, which has halved over a year, and migration to the state.
The price of iron ore falls and people stop coming.
“A large number of interstate migrants moved to Western Australia from all other states across the last two Census periods, largely as a product of the minerals and energy boom,” says the economics centre report, Western Australian labour markets in transition.
Both net interstate and overseas migration have been tracking iron ore prices since the start of the boom in the early 2000s.
“Previously negative net interstate migration flows transformed quickly from a debit to a credit, and increasing at a rate similar to that of iron ore prices,” the centre says. “Net overseas migration has also followed this path, mirroring increases and falls in iron ore prices across the period.”
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