Here's what's driving population growth across Australia

Michael Dodge/Getty ImagesCommuters leave and arrive at Flinders Street Station in Melbourne.
  • Australia’s population is quickly closing in on 25 million, currently standing at 24.934 million, according to estimates from the ABS.
  • In the year to September 2017, Australia’s population increased by 395,600, or 1.63%, largely reflecting strong growth in net overseas migration.
  • Strong net interstate migration from New South Wales is also fueling population growth in other parts of the country, especially in Victoria.

Australia’s population is quickly closing in on 25 million, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) population clock.

In the year to September 2017, the ABS said Australia’s population increased by 395,600, or 1.63%, largely reflecting strong growth in net overseas migration.

It increased by 250,100, accounting for 63.2% of Australia’s total population growth over the year. In comparison, natural increase — measuring births less deaths — contributed the remaining 36.8%, slowing to 145,500, below the levels seen in prior years.

As seen in the chart below from Deloitte Access Economics, much of Australia’s overall population increase was driven by just two cities — Melbourne and Sydney.

Deloitte Access Economics

While strong immigration flows into these cities was a major factor behind Australia’s overall population increase, another factor is also contributing to population growth across the country.

Residents in New South Wales, in particular Sydney, are moving interstate.

This excellent chart from Deloitte Access Economics shows net interstate migration around the country, including the contribution from New South Wales to internal migration flows.

Deloitte Access Economics

While New South Wales has regularly lost residents to Australia’s other states and territories, Deloitte Access Economics says the pace of exodus is increasing at present.

“Rising housing pressures and increasing living costs have dominated headlines in recent years. And it seems these are pushing residents elsewhere, as well as acting as a deterrent to those from other States thinking of making a move to the harbour city,” it says.

“Overwhelmingly they’re headed to sunny Queensland, accounting for almost half of new interstate arrivals into the State. As Queensland’s economy improves, cheaper housing relative to Sydney is likely a major draw card.”

Along with net interstate migration out of Western and South Australia, Deloitte Access Economics says this is contributing to strong population growth in Victoria, currently Australia’s fastest growing state.

“The droves of people leaving… have benefited Victoria, supporting jobs growth, and are a sign of economic success,” it says.

“But the large numbers are also creating rising congestion and unaffordability pressures in Melbourne. We may see that tide turn in coming years.”

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