Population growth continues to accelerate

ScreenHunter_07 Mar. 19 12.02

By Leith van Onselen

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) this morning released the Australian Demographic Statistics for the September quarter of 2012.

According to the ABS, Australia’s population grew by 1.7% in the year to September 2012, which was the highest annual recorded rate of growth since December 2009, and above the 30-year average of 1.4%.

ScreenHunter_21 Mar. 28 14.11

The growth in the number of persons in the year to September 2012 was 382,500, which was 132,800 above the 30-year average:

ScreenHunter_22 Mar. 28 14.12

As shown above, Australia’s population growth continues to be driven by net overseas migration (NOM) – i.e. those residing in Australia for 12 months or more.


While NOM declined significantly – from a peak of 315,700 in calendar year 2008 to 228,000 in the year to September 2012 – it remains well above the average level of 124,086.

Moreover, the proportion of population growth derived from NOM – 60% in the year to September 2012 – remains well above the 30-year average of 48%:

ScreenHunter_23 Mar. 28 14.16

Separate data compiled by the ABS, which measures permanent arrivals/departures into Australia only, suggests that nearly two-thirds of NOM is temporary.

As shown in the next chart, the number of net permanent arrivals into Australia was 65,690 in the 12 months to January 2013, which is tracking just below the 30-year average of 66,413:

ScreenHunter_25 Mar. 28 14.18

While natural increase – the difference between births and deaths – is not the key driver of Australia’s population growth, it too is running at levels well above the 30-year average. However, it fell slightly in the September quarter (see below chart).

ScreenHunter_26 Mar. 28 14.21

More recently, Australia’s population growth rate has been driven by migration into Australia’s key resources state – Western Australia – where population grew at a rate (3.4%) that was double the national average (1.7%) in the 12 months to September 2012:

ScreenHunter_27 Mar. 28 14.23

In number terms, however, population growth in the 12 months to September 2012 was highest in Victoria (94,837), followed by Queensland (91,389), New South Wales (86,033), and Western Australia (81,694):

ScreenHunter_28 Mar. 28 14.26

[email protected]


About the author
Leith van Onselen is Chief Economist at the MB Fund and MB Super. He is also a co-founder of MacroBusiness. Leith has previously worked at the Australian Treasury, Victorian Treasury and Goldman Sachs.