Australia’s population recorded its fastest rise in nine years – including the biggest surge of migrants into Sydney and Melbourne since 2009 – underpinning increased demand for infrastructure and housing.
In a development that adds to evidence the nation’s economy is set to strengthen in coming quarters, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said the population grew in the March quarter by 126,000 people.
That was led by the fastest annual population growth in Victoria (up 2.43 per cent) since 1960 and NSW (which rose 1.6 per cent).
A dramatic increase in net overseas migration is the primary driver of the rise, most of which has headed to NSW and its capital city, which has absorbed more than 90,000 people over the past 12 months. Victoria added more than 80,000.
In total, net migration of 231,900 over the past year has contributed 60 per cent of annual growth.
The figures reinforce expectations that population remains a primary driver of Australia’s economic performance and job creation, which has surged over the past six months.
Michael Workman, a senior economist at Commonwealth Bank of Australia, said the nation’s population has expanded by 40 per cent since 1990 – to 24.5 million from 17.2 million – underscoring the need for federal and state governments to maintain infrastructure spending.
“Roads, airports, power and water utilities need to deliver first rate systems to raise productivity and reduce congestion costs,” Mr Workman said.
Those costs have been exacerbated after a relatively long period of home under building, which “helps explain Australia’s relatively high housing prices and recent strong price growth”.
“The pressure on social and economic infrastructure will continue, especially in inner-city areas, as annual births have stayed near 300,000 since 2006,” he said.
The bureau estimates that the population of Greater Sydney rose by 1.86 per cent in 2015-16, faster than the 1.76 per cent annual rate recorded over the last five years.
Melbourne’s growth accelerated to 2.74 per cent, according to the bureau.
The Northern Territory, Tasmania, Western Australia and South Australia were the national laggards, posting annual growth rates of around a third of the total rate.
Wednesday’s report also included the first estimate of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population based on last year’s Census.
As of June 30, 2016, the bureau estimates that the resident indigenous population stood at 798,400 people, or 3.3 per cent of the total national population.
The figures also confirm the indigenous population is, on average, younger than the rest of the nation. In 2016, the proportion of indigenous Australians younger than 15 years was 34 per cent, compared with 18 per cent for the general population. The ratio for those older than 64 was 4 per cent and 16 per cent respectively. Read more: http://www.afr.com/news/economy/biggest-population-surge-since-2008-20170927-gypt76#ixzz4twbVH22g