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Post pandemic migrant intake continues to grow – ABS

24 January 20240 comments

Migration continues to contribute to Australia’s population growth and economic growth, new data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) shows.

The year ending June 30, 2023, saw a net gain of 518,000 people to Australia’s population through migration, the largest net overseas migration estimate since records began.

In 2022-23, the number of migrant arrivals increased to 737,000, up from 427,000 the year before. This equates to an annual increase of 73 per cent, the ABS said.

“In 2020-21, there was an annual decrease of 71 per cent, due to the travel restrictions during the pandemic. With the travel restrictions now lifted, the number of migrant arrivals has surpassed annual numbers recorded pre-pandemic,” it said.

In the five years prior to the pandemic, the average number of migrant arrivals was 515,000 per year with the majority arriving on temporary visas (307,000).

For those who arrived with a permanent visa, the average was 92,000. For Australian and New Zealand citizens arriving it was 77,000 and 32,000 respectively.

“In 2022-23, those on temporary visas (554,000) recorded higher volumes than pre-pandemic levels. Permanent visa holder arrivals (80,000) and Australian citizen arrivals (59,000) however, recorded lower levels. New Zealand citizens (41,000) recorded higher volumes than the pre-pandemic five-year average,” the ABS said. 

“Temporary visa holders were the largest contributors to arrivals in 2022-23. Of the temporary visa holders, the largest group was international students (283,000). Other temporary visa holders include working holiday makers (70,000) and temporary skilled (49,000).”

Additions to Australia’s population from overseas migration were recorded for a majority of countries of birth in 2022-23.

In 2022-23, the top five countries of birth contributing to net overseas migration were India, China, the Philippines, the United Kingdom and Australia.

Analysis over the previous decade shows steady increases for migrants born in India and China prior to the pandemic. However, for the Chinese-born, a decline started from late 2017, well before the COVID-19 pandemic began.

With travel restrictions eased, in 2022-23, net gains from India, China, the Philippines and the United Kingdom increased to estimates higher than pre-pandemic levels.  

“In 2022-23, there was a net loss of Australian-born from the population of 32,000. This is in line with the historical trend observed before the pandemic of a net loss each year. During 2020-21, the COVID-19 pandemic and associated travel restrictions caused this long-term pattern to be reversed with a net gain of 7,500 Australian-born residents added to the population,” the ABS said.

The bureau said that historically, more people migrate to Australia than migrate away each year, meaning overseas migration has been a significant source of population gain for Australia rather than loss. 

Although overseas migration was a record high in 2022-23, the cycle of migration has not returned to the pattern seen prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Many potential migrants didn’t come to Australia in 2020 and 2021 because of border closures and other pandemic impacts. During this time temporary visa holders recorded the largest declines in arrivals. In 2022-23 the number of migrants arriving on temporary visas has gone up but the number departing has reduced slightly,” the ABS said.