Population Winners and Losers...

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The measure of population growth and movement in Australia is one that can often be a highly contributory measure of economic success.  This is particularly so in smaller States or regions that depend on population increases for their economic wellbeing.  The latest data clearly identifies which States are the champions and those that need to spend plenty more time figuring out their strategies to attract and grow this lucrative resource.

Australia population growth is comprised of three important sectors:

  1. Net Natural Growth: represents the difference between the number of births and deaths.
  2. Net Overseas Migration: is typically defined as any person who changes his or her usual country of residence.
  3. Net Interstate Migration: is the movement of people from one state to another as their usual place of residence.

So who are the winners?  

Natural Growth

The change from the March Quarter to the June Quarter 2015:

Pop Table 2.png

The big movers in this quarter are clearly NSW and Victoria.  In many respects, Victoria is the biggest surprise with such a dramatic increase where the previous quarter saw its growth at slightly less than QLD.  Whilst the order of the top three has changed slightly, there is no doubt that the economic powerhouses of Sydney and Melbourne are having significant impacts on population momentum and confidence.

Overseas Migration

The change from the March Quarter to the June Quarter 2015:

Pop Table 3.png

Whilst the international population growth has been positive across all States and Territories, the concern is that with the exception of the Northern Territory, every other area had a population loss from the previous quarter.  The Northern Territory can be largely explained away by the Gas sector and employment opportunities at the time.  It is suggested that this won’t be the case in 2016 as the larger projects start to reach completion.  In many respects, the QLD and WA experiences are very much crystal balls for the Northern Territory.

What these tables don’t demonstrate is that many of the regions have been the recipients of these about turns in international population growth.  This is highly evident in Western Australia’s Northern regions as well as the coastal regions of Queensland north of the Sunshine Coast.  This softening has left many markets exposed to supply imbalances in the residential sector which now favour the locals and First Home Buyers alike.

Net Interstate Migration

The change from the March Quarter to the June Quarter 2015:

Net interstate migration is a great measure of how people are moving around within Australia.  In some respects it also highlights fundamental issues in individual States.  NSW is always a net loser for interstate migration.  As far back as the ABS electronic data (1981) is concerned, NSW has not had one single quarter of positive net interstate migration.

Victoria continues to be the real mover and shaker on Net Interstate migration.  Since September 2008, it has only had one quarter of population loss which was marginal at just 44 people.  At present Victoria is very successfully capitalising on the South Australia brain drain as young people move east to find more opportunity, real or otherwise.  It has also positioned itself very much in the culture, event and tourism space that in many respects, was once dominated by QLD.

The resources boom in WA is now over and the people are moving back to the East Coast.  Current trends look set to be similar to the late 1990’s and early 2000’s.  This will create challenging conditions for the property market unless the population loss is stemmed.  Many may argue however that the population loss is being felt more in the regional centres than the metropolitan areas of Perth.  There is certainly some merit in this argument when consideration is given to increasing vacancy rates, falling rents and decreasing property values.

What is highly evident though is that the current levels of population mobility are at near record lows and are trending to continue that way.  Whilst the term FIFO was used extensively for the resources boom, there is a great deal of activity in the white collar roles as well.  The capacity to telecommute combined with cheaper airfares when a physical presence is required has meant that more often than not, employees are reluctant to uproot their families and employers are more flexible in their approach.

Net Interstate Migration by Quarter by State

So What Does the Overall Population Change Look Like?

The most important aspect is that Australia’s population increased by almost 73,000 people in the June Quarter of 2015. However there is a very good reason why the property market is performing so strongly in NSW and VIC.  When you consider that two thirds of increases occur in these two States, there is a very real risk that others will get left behind.  

There are policy issues that need investigation at a State level that impact growth, in addition the Federal system must look at the potential to rebalance some of that international migration and how it is distributed.  The challenge will be to ensure that the economy has the support to make this happen.  Skilled international labour is highly sought after so long as there are the projects to support their employment.  It would appear that with the exception of NSW and VIC this may not be the case.

It should be noted that QLD experienced infrastructure problems that lasted a decade after the sustained population growth which occurred through the early to mid 2000’s.  It is only now just starting to get back into a position where it has invested in the infrastructure to allow for a more robust population growth rate that has less impact on the lives of most south east Queenslanders.

Lifestyle and technological advances will continue to shape the way Australia grows and how the people within its borders move around.  The declining rate of population mobility may well be a sign that technology is finally allowing people to have greater flexibility on where they work and how they work.  The question will be, “Is the next decade going to see greater telecommuting and will that be at the expense of our commercial space?”

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•    Gold Coast Masterplanned Residential Community Analysis
•    Sunshine Coast Masterplanned Residential Community Analysis
•    Fortitude Valley Apartment Market Study
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•    Ipswich Land Study
•    Gold Coast Apartment Market Supply Analysis
•    Western Ipswich Land Supply Investigation
•    Boutique Land Analysis in Rochedale
•    Central Queensland Resort Study and Demand Analysis
•    Rockhampton Residential Market Study
•    Project Positioning Reports- Redlands, Northern Brisbane Suburbs and Near City Suburbs.
•    Tourism in Off Season High Country Destinations

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