Another dagger through the hearts of Australian renters


Australia’s population increased by a record 660,000 people in the year to September, which is roughly 1.5 times the size of Canberra.

Australian population change

On Tuesday, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released net permanent and long-term arrivals figures for February, revealing record arrivals on a monthly, quarterly, and annual basis.

An unprecedented 105,460 net permanent and long-term arrivals landed in February, with 173,370 arriving over the quarter:

Quarterly arrivals

Over the year to February, there were 1,136,770 permanent and long-term arrivals into Australia, offset by 638,500 departures:

Arrivals versus departures

As a result, there were a record 498,270 net permanent and long-term arrivals into Australia over the year to February:

Net immigration

Shane Oliver, chief economist at AMP, provided the following chart showing that the official quarterly net overseas migration figures will remain at historically high levels based on this data:

AMP immigration

Source: Shane Oliver

This data should send a shiver through the spines of all Australian renters, given it has arrived amid the collapse in dwelling approvals, which fell to 12-year lows in February at an annualised rate of only 149,000:

Dwelling approvals

Rental vacancy rates are already tracking at record lows, driving rental inflation into the stratosphere.

Rental vacancy rates

Near-record net overseas migration will make the situation much worse.


It also spells bad news for the labour market, which is already experiencing massive growth in the number of applicants per job ad:

Unemployment versus applicants per job ad

According to Alex Joiner, chief economist at IFM Investors, labour supply will continue to grow strongly, placing upward pressure on the unemployment rate:

Civilian population

Source: Alex Joiner

The only sliver of good news is that the number of visas issued is declining:

Net visa arrivals

As the below chart from Justin Fabo at Antipodean Macro shows, net visa arrivals tanked in March based on provisional data:

Monthly visa arrivals

International students drove this decline, likely related to the tightening of visa requirements and rising rejection rates:


Thus, net overseas migration should decrease this year, even though it will remain historically high.

I discussed these results in an interview this morning with Tom Elliott at Radio 3AW:


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.