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Latest population data shows COVID has slowed migration

25 June 20210 comments

Australia’s population growth has slumped to its slowest rate in almost 15 years with the nation suffering a net flow of people out of the country as the international border remains closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

New data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) shows Australia’s population grew just 0.5 per cent to 25.7 million last year, with signs the coronavirus pandemic is altering the nation’s demographic profile.

And for the first time in almost six years Victoria was not the nation’s fastest growing state or territory in what is looming as an economic stumbling block for the country.

In the June quarter the national population increased by 29,300 to 25,687,041. It was the smallest quarterly increase since June 1993 when the country was emerging from the 1990-91 recession.

Over the past 12 months, the population increased by 321,300 but more than two-thirds of that occurred in the March and September quarters, before the advent of the coronavirus pandemic forced the virtual end of international travel and migration.

Annual growth slipped to 1.3 per cent, which was last recorded in the December quarter of 2005.

About 60 per cent of Australia’s population growth is driven by net overseas migration.

Victoria suffered a net outflow of 3042 residents to other parts of the country, the first time that had happened 2008. This was before the statewide lockdown of Victoria.

Since the end of 2014, Victoria has had the fastest growing population of any state or territory but it has now relinquished that title to Queensland which added 13,028 residents during the quarter. While now the fastest growing part of the country, it was the smallest quarterly increase since 2000.

In 2020, there were over 7.6 million migrants living in Australia, representing 29.8 per cent of the population born overseas. The year before there were 7.5 million people born overseas.

Almost every single country from around the world is represented in Australia’s population with England (980,400) continuing to be the largest group of overseas-born living in Australia. But decreased from just over a million, recorded throughout the period 2012 to 2016.

People born in India (721,000) were in second place, with an increase of 56,300 while Chinese-born people (650,600) fell to third place, with 17,300 fewer people.

The number of people born in Australia (18.0 million) increased 211,400 during the year.

Historically, more people arrive in Australia than leave and the waves of migrants from numerous countries over time, have had an important effect on the diversity of Australia’s population, the ABS says.

The median age of the overseas-born population has gradually been decreasing from a decade ago however, at 30 June 2020, a small increase was recorded from the previous year, to 44 years of age.

Meanwhile, the median age of the Australian-born population has gradually been increasing over time to now be 34 years of age, similar to the previous year.

“The decrease in the median age of the overseas-born population prior to 30 June 2020 has had a positive effect on the age structure of Australia by slowing the ageing of the total population,” the ABS report said.

“Migrants from countries who were part of the post-second world war migration streams, are now generally older. For example, the Italian-born population has a median age of 72 years whereas, those from more recent groups of migrant arrivals are younger. For example, the Indian-born population has a median age of 35 years, one year older than those born in Australia,” it said.

The group with the oldest median age was from Latvia, at 78 years of age and the youngest median age was from the Cayman Islands, at 14 years of age.

The highest gender ratio was from Vanuatu, with 225 males per 100 females, and the lowest was from Turkmenistan, with 37 males per 100 females.

Western Australia had the highest proportion at 35 per cent and Tasmania had the lowest at 13 per cent.

The figure for NSW was 30 per cent, Victoria 31 per cent, Queensland 24 per cent, South Australia 24 per cent, The Northern Territory 23 per cent and the ACT 28 per cent.

The largest groups of overseas-born residents for each state and territory in 2016 were: NSW — China (256,000 people); Victoria — England (193,000); Queensland — New Zealand (220,000); South Australia — England (104,000); WA — England (214,000); Tasmania — England (20,000); The Northern Territory — Philippines (7,000), and; The ACT — England (13,000).