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Thursday, 15 December 2016

Melbourne, Sydney, & SEQ the population growth hubs


I only write four of these blog posts per annum, but it's by far one of the most crucial, concerning the key demographic trends in Australia! 

Right, I swear that's the final exclamation mark for calendar year 2016.

Sydney continues to attract the most migrants to Australia, with immigration in New South Wales picking up strongly from a trough of around 50,000 per annum in December 2010 to above 71,000 as at June 2016. 

Melbourne too is creating enough jobs to attract greater numbers of immigrants. 

Unfortunately the same is not true elsewhere, and as such the two most populous states picked up some three quarters of immigrants across the 2016 financial year. 

The net interstate migration figures are seriously telling, with significant net outflows from Western Australia and South Australia. 

The annual interstate population outflow from South Australia of -6,400 was the fastest in more than two decades, and the quarterly figures implied that the trend is actually accelerating. 

I've noted here previously that unless this trend reverses, population growth in the state of South Australia could feasibly turn negative, which would be disastrous. Stimulus is needed here!

At this stage in the cycle we also expect to see more people leaving Sydney for Brisbane and other parts of Queensland, and indeed interstate migration into the Sunshine State unsurprisingly experienced its strongest result since 2008. 

More surprising has been the record net interstate migration into Victoria. Just look at that puppy go!

State versus state

As a consequence of this, annual population growth in Victoria has exploded off the charts to +123,131, leaving New South Wales trailing its wake at +105,585, these two states alone accounting for two thirds of Australia's population growth.

Queensland's annual population growth has now been rising again as I expected since the September 2015 quarter. 

At the headline level, New South Wales has an estimated resident population of 7.65 million, while Victoria is roaring towards 6 million apparently at warp speed, and Queensland is home to 4.8 million. 

Perhaps the most useful way to look at the population growth numbers at the state level is to look at the annual growth figures for each financial year. 

As you can see, population growth in Victoria has gone absolutely ape, while New South Wales continues to strike its curious balance between attracting the most immigrants and losing the most residents interstate. 

Queensland's cheaper lifestyle and warmer climate will continue to attract Sydneysiders, but for now Western Australia is still turning down, while South Australia is losing its residents interstate at an alarming rate.

Population growth was slowest in Tasmania (+0.4 per cent) and the Northern Territory (+0.3 per cent), with the Top End being another location where negative population growth looks to be an increasingly distinct possibility. 

The wrap

It's record population growth once again in Melbourne, and very high population growth in Sydney, with Brisbane and south-east Queensland now on the rise again.

Perhaps a point to be looked at in more detail in another post is how this impacts the supposed apartment gluts in Melbourne and elsewhere.

There's no question that Docklands and some inner city areas of Melbourne have been flooded with undesirable high rise units.

Yet in aggregate even the record 58,000 dwellings completed in the state over the year to June (including more than 18,000 in the June quarter alone, an astonishing rate of completions) may not be enough to sate the demand for housing. 

Of course, it's vitally important to drill down to the local level to get the full picture, bit the assumed apartment oversupply may not be as clear cut as previously believed. 

In fact, if the population keeps growing at more than 123,000 per annum, perhaps even the notion of an oversupply becomes obsolete ('if' being the operative word, of course!).