Since late 2012, Queensland has been losing people to Victoria, a reversal of the historically positive net flow of people from Victoria to Queensland (see chart below based on the latest ABS population estimates published Thursday last week). While the net loss to Victoria from Queensland has only been around 1,000 people each year, it is at such variance with the historical record that it warrants some concern.
Queensland historically led Australia in net interstate migration, reflecting the attractiveness of our climate, lifestyle and economic opportunities, but now Victoria is on top (see chart below). While Queensland gained 11,600 people from other States and Territories in 2015-16, largely from NSW, Victoria gained 16,700 people, including around 1,000 people from Queensland.
Victoria also leads Australia in population growth, while Queensland is only growing at around the national average growth rate (see chart below).
As I have commented previously, I think Victoria has surged ahead partly because of large improvements in the liveability of Melbourne relative to South-East Queensland. SEQ’s decline in relative liveability was largely due to our failure to properly manage the population surge we experienced in the 1990s and early 2000s (see this QEW post from March). Also, the fact Queensland has a relatively less diverse economy, heavily dependent on mining, has not helped. In recent years, Queensland has unfortunately not been generating the full-time jobs that would attract people from other States and prevent Queenslanders from leaving (see chart below). Indeed, the number of full-time employed persons in Queensland declined in the twelve months to November by almost 12,000 or by 0.7 percent. Over the same period, the number of full-time employed persons in Victoria increased by around 74,000 or by 3.7 percent.
Thankfully, interstate migration to Queensland has started to recover from the very low levels of 2014-15 (as indicated in the first chart above), but it is still well below levels seen in the 1990s and early 2000s. I expect it will recover further, as the Queensland economy appears set to perform better than other States and Territories over 2017, but I have no doubt we will continue to lose many talented Queenslanders to Victoria, given its very attractive lifestyle and career opportunities.