The speed of population growth in Australia has been winding down since reaching an annual peak in December 2012, when the national population grew by 1.78 per cent over the year.
With overseas migration moderating and a slowdown in the rate of natural increase, the annual rate of population growth across the country has slipped to 1.69 per cent over the year ending March 2014. The more timely overseas arrivals and departures data indicates that net overseas migration to Australia is continuing to slow down, so we should expect the rate of population growth to continue tapering over the near term.
Across the states there is a third component of population growth: interstate migration flows. The trends of migration flows between the states have been changing over the past few years with the mining states demonstrating a sharp slowdown in both overseas migration flows as well as less net migration across the state borders. Conversely, the non-mining states are seeing a pick-up in interstate migration flows as workers ‘bounce’ back from resources sector jobs that are no longer there.
Across New South Wales, interstate migration remains in negative territory (in fact there hasn’t been a single period over the ABS historical series when net interstate migration has moved into positive territory in NSW). With a net interstate migration figure of -1,036 over the 12 months ending March 2014, this is the smallest net loss of interstate migrants for NSW on record. The improved interstate migration figures are largely being driven by an improvement in net migration between Queensland where the net rate of interstate migration was at a record low of -4,786 over the year to March 2014. To provide some context, in 2003 the net interstate migration deficit between NSW and Queensland was just under 26,000.
Victoria is now the national leader for interstate migration, taking the title away from Queensland since the September quarter last year, based on annual net migration figures. Net interstate migration into Victoria is currently at a record high, with a net 2,468 more residents moving to the state from other regions of Australia. Net migrants from NSW were the most substantial interstate contributors to Victorian population growth; however, the trend of interstate arrivals from the mining states to Victoria is at record levels and trending higher.
Queensland is no longer attracting the largest number of net interstate migrants, falling to second position after Victoria since the September quarter last year. Over the year to March 2014, the state of Queensland attracted an additional 5,772 net interstate migrants which is only slightly higher than the previous all-time low of 5,384 net interstate migrants recorded over the year ending December 2010.
Net interstate migration into South Australia hasn’t changed a great deal over recent years with the quarterly rate of net migrants typically bouncing between -1,500 and -500 over the past decade. The largest portion of state residents are lost to Victoria, where over the year ending March 2014 there was a net interstate loss of 1,827 residents to Victoria.
Western Australia still lays claim to the title of ‘fastest growing state’ with an annual population growth rate of 2.5 per cent, but there has been a consistent moderation in the rate of growth since a recent annual peak of 3.72 per cent over the year ending September 2012. WA is still attracting positive net interstate migration; however, there were only 256 net interstate migrants to WA over the March quarter, down from a recent high of 3,395 over the March quarter of 2012.
Net interstate migration into Tasmania has remained in negative territory since late 2010; however, the trend is showing some constancy and is now approaching a neutral rate of interstate migration. The last time net interstate migration was substantially positive into Tasmania was between 2003 and 2004 when housing markets were booming.