Queensland’s population, now at around 4.9 million, increased 1.4% in the year to 30 September 2016, a growth rate slightly below the national growth rate of 1.5%, but significantly below Victoria’s stand-out growth rate of 2.1% (Chart 1 based on the latest ABS data). Victoria has performed strongly in terms of both population growth and employment growth in recent years. Victoria’s economy has no doubt benefited from the feedback between jobs growth and population growth, as jobs growth attracts new migrants, increasing the population, which in turn supports further jobs growth, and so on. For Queensland, in recent years, the story has been much different, with below average population and jobs growth.
The number of employed persons in Queensland has increased by only around 6% since February 2009 (a date chosen because it was around then that our population growth rate started to fall) compared with an increase in employment in Victoria of around 17% (Chart 2).
The Sunshine State’s middle-of-the-pack population growth rate is much lower than it has been historically (Chart 3) when Queensland, at times, ranked as the number one State for population growth (Chart 4).
Queensland’s relative decline in population growth since the mid-to-late 2000s is due to falls in both net overseas migration and net interstate migration (Chart 5). In the current decade, it has been the fall in net overseas migration that has been most substantial. Consider that, at its peak in calendar year 2008, net overseas migration to Queensland was almost 63,000 people, but, in the year to 30 September 2016, it was only around 21,500 people. A decade ago, net overseas migration to Queensland accounted for around 20% of the total for Australia, but that has subsequently almost halved to the 11% share Queensland receives now.
While net interstate migration has recovered somewhat from its trough in 2013-14 (Chart 6), at around 13,000 people in the 12 months to 30 September 2016, it remains well below levels experienced during the early 2000s and 1990s. In the early 2000s, Queensland experienced yearly net interstate migration figures of around 30,000 to 35,000 people. In the early 1990s, yearly net interstate migration peaked at around 50,000 people.
I have previously commented on the net loss of people Queensland has experienced to Victoria in recent quarters (see my post on the previous data release). Thankfully, net migration from Victoria has finally turned positive, albeit only to a net gain of 38 people, after fifteen consecutive negative quarters (Chart 7). This may have something to do with the improvement in economic conditions Queensland experienced over the second half of 2016, but let us wait and see how long it lasts before getting too excited.