Pete Wargent blogspot

CEO AllenWargent Property Buyers, & WargentAdvisory (institutional). 6 x finance author.

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Thursday, 21 June 2018

Population growth quicker than previously estimated (slowing from higher-highs)

Population growth rate: slowing from higher-highs

A somewhat confusing set of figures from the ABS today, with a final rebasing of population estimates from the 2016 Census shaving nearly 20,000 off the estimated resident population of Australia, leaving the population clock now at just a tick over 24,950,000.

That means that the population clock is now projected to hit 25,000,000 in August 2018, a little bit later than scheduled.

Interestingly, through, the latest revised figures also showed that the growth in the estimated residential population was quicker during the first half of last year than previously reported, peaking at 408,179 over the year to June 2017, before easing back a bit to 387,969 (or 1.6 per cent) by the end of the calendar year. 


There was an unusually high number of international departures in the March quarter.

It remains to be seen if this dynamic is sustained, but it seems likely to relate to the high number of international students we are now seeing in Australia.

In effect, with more than 2 million temporary visas on issue, Australia's 'resident' population is becoming more seasonal (we are seeing this impact a lot in rental markets these days).

The revised numbers showed that net overseas migration into the three most populous states was pacier than previously reported in the early part of last year, with immigration into Sydney temporarily sending New South Wales off the top of the charts (literally so in this case).


Annual immigration into Western Australia has now increased steadily for four consecutive quarters, with the three most populous states now easing, if you take these figures at face value. 

The auditor in me has a sneaking suspicion that there might be a cut-off issue with some of these numbers - however, it does seem that the pace of immigration could be slower this year than last, for a range of reasons as better explored by Signor Pascoe at the SMH and the New Daily.

Points north

The latest estimates showed a whopping 7,733 upping sticks on a net basis for Queensland over the 3 months to Xmas 2017 alone, the highest quarterly number since the heady days of 2005.

Moving to Queensland - you can't get more aspirational than that!

Over the year to December 2017, net interstate migration to the Sunshine State exceeded 22,500, the highest in more than a decade and mainly at the expense of New South Wales. 


At least Sydney has a high number of young migrants coming in, which helps to keep a lid of the ageing of the population.

Western Australia and South Australia continue to lose significant headcount interstate, however, largely to Melbourne where the labour market is thriving, which is a troubling trend for these states.

Population growth in the Australian Capital Territory quickened to 2.2 per cent, the fastest rate since 2012, while the Northern Territory has seen its resident population growth slow to all but zero. 

Queensland in focus (filling up)

The revised numbers for Queensland show a bit of a dichotomy, with the estimated growth in the resident population both slowing and yet quite a bit quicker than previously reported.


With residential construction activity in Queensland already nosediving by a third from the peak, this in turn accounts for the five consecutive declines in Brisbane's vacancy rates


Incidentally, you can see these impacts for yourself in inner-city Brisbane, with previously untenanted tower blocks now sporting furniture on 100 per cent of balconies, not that you can easily make this out from my casually snapped Polaroids. 


The wrap

Today's release showed population growth still tracking at around 1.6 per cent or 388,000 in 2017, but having slowed from higher-highs (if you can get your head around all of that).

Over calendar year 2017 the annual growth in Australia's estimated resident population was greatest in Victoria (143,400), New South Wales (116,800) and Queensland (81,500) respectively. 

Recently reported trends suggest that total population growth might be trimmed back a little from these levels, perhaps towards 350,000 or 1.4 per cent.