Australia’s population growth – where is it happening?

Australia’s population hit a milestone – 24 million people in February this year – 17 years earlier than official predictions made at the turn of the century.

We added the latest million people in record time.

And now our population is projected to increases by 378,476 people over the year (or 1,037 people daily) to reach 24, 546,779 by the beginning of 2017.

This will be by a combination of 164,103 more births than deaths (natural increase) and an increase of around 214, 373 due to migration.

Population growth

Source: Pete Wargent

Population dynamics

According to the ABS, we’re having:

  • one birth every 1 minute and 46 seconds;
  • one death every 3 minutes and 27 seconds;
  • a net gain of one international migration every 2 minutes and 39 seconds; leading to
  • an overall total population increase of one person every 1 minute and 32 seconds.

Where are they all going? 

The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports the following breakdown of population growth of 317,000 people in the year to September 2015:

Capital Cities: 263,000 (83%)

  • Melbourne: 91,600 (29%)
  • Sydney: 83,300 (26%)
  • Brisbane: 35,200 (11%)
  • Perth: 31,100 (10%)
  • Adelaide: 12,100 (4%)
  • Canberra: 5,400 (2%)
  • Darwin: 2,600 (1%)
  • Hobart: 1,700 (1%)

Regional Australia: 54,000 (17%)

  • Gold Coast/Tweed: 10,800 (3%)
  • Sunshine Coast: 4,870 (2%)
  • Newcastle: 3,960 (1%)
  • Wollongong: 3,330 (1%)
  • Geelong: 3,240 (1%)
  • Central Coast NSW: 2,200 (1%)

The bottom line

Economic growth leads to job growth, which leads to population growth, which leads to rising demand for properties (both rental and owner occupier) and this eventually leads to property price growth.

That’s why I spend a lot of time researching and writing about the economy.

The figures above clearly show that Melbourne and Sydney lead the pack, with more than half of Australia’s population growth occurring in our two big capital cities.

They also confirm why I continue to recommend avoiding investing in regional Australia or in short-term hotspots.

For example, recently there have been a number of people recommending investing in Hobart because it is had a short period of price growth (up 4.8% over the last year.)

In reality Hobart is only playing catch up with Hobart’s capital growth not kept up with inflation since the end of the last property cycle.

While Hobart is a lovely place to live, with a total increase in Hobart’s population of 1,700 people over the last year, that’s hardly the stuff that makes property prices grow.

It’s much the same in most regional locations of Australia.

For mine, as a property investor I’d only be investing where there are multiple property growth drivers, two of which are sustained economic growth and long term population growth.

Michael Yardney is a director of Metropole Property Strategists, which creates wealth for its clients through independent, unbiased property advice and advocacy. He is a best-selling author, one of Australia’s leading experts in wealth creation through property and writes the Property Update blog.


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Andrew Smith
Andrew Smith
5 years ago

Interesting but there is another important driver of population growth, in addition to births and (mostly temporary) immigration/residents such as students, that adds to the estimated resident population.

It’s the ageing population with over 85 year olds being the fastest growing segment, and the older generations’ longevity makes a cumulative statistical effect on the headline number, thus increasing it (even without the permanent skilled migration program).

Paul R Collins
Paul R Collins
5 years ago

3 years of falling actual births and not a mention Mr Y. Now below 300,000 births pa and what is about to come is the doubling of our actual deaths as 80 years after a baby boom, comes a death bust.

Paul R Collins
Paul R Collins
5 years ago

To correct the ‘facts’ you presented…
NOM was 167,700 not 217, 343[email protected]/mf/3101.0

5 years ago

WHY is everyone so keen on ‘growth’, especially population? Most agree that improvements in tech and AI will lead to ever increasing loss of low-skill jobs. What unemployment rates can we sustain? With finite resources, the growth pyramid cannot be sustained for ever. I’d rather see a cap on population, say 20 million, we could then cut back on expenditure on NEW roads, hospitals, schools, rail, etc. and house prices would finally level off. We can sustain or grow the economy my concentrating on our smarts especially in science/tech/agriculture/medicine (rather than the constant cuts to these areas by pollies whose sole knowledge and expertise seems to be law and politics).