Colin’s Corner

Queensland Population Trends 2020-21

By Colin Toll

A significant impact on the human resource of Queensland is the prevailing trends in the population. In this article I rely heavily on the data provided by the Queensland Government Statistician’s Office.

Population movement, be it increasing or decreasing, will affect the economy and hence employment. The composition of the population is also very important in terms of the economy and employment.

Some Highlights

  • Queensland had the largest population increase (45,930 persons) more than double that of the next highest increase, namely, NSW.
  • Queensland’s annual population growth rate (0.9%) was the fastest of the states and territories and higher than the 2020–21 national average (0.2%).
  • Net interstate migration (NIM) of 30,940 persons was the largest driver of population growth for Queensland, closely followed by natural increase (births minus deaths) of 29,350 persons.
  • New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland together accounted for 84.5% of national population growth in the five years to June 2021.
  • All states and territories saw a moderation in their annual population growth rates in the year to 30 June 2021. Queensland’s annual growth rate had been relatively steady in the four years since 2017, fluctuating between 1.6% and 1.7%, slowing to 0.9% in 2020–21.
  • Between June 2017 and June 2021, Queensland’s population grew by 6.0% or 293,540 persons.

Net interstate migration flows to and from QLD, 2020–21:

Source Number Comment
NSW 18,730 Traditionally the largest source
Victoria 12,300 Significant increase over long term average
NT 1,530  
SA 1,290  
ACT 610  
TAS 210  
WA -710 Qld migration to WA

Since 2017–18 there have been net gains to Queensland from Victoria, with the gain in 2020–21 more than twice that in 2019–20. The 2020–21 gain is the highest since 1994–95

Queensland Population Composition

The volume of population is important, but the composition of the population is more important.  For example, a large and increasing population where most people are aged 75 years or more has obvious and significant disadvantages. Much has been written in recent times about concerns arising from Australia’s ageing population. So, what is the composition of the Queensland increasing population and where are the interstate migrants settling?

The population (ERP) of Queensland increased by an annual average of 1.6% in the decade ending on 30 June 2020. The age structure within Queensland over that decade has changed with the largest percentage increase being males aged 70–74 years. In that decade the median age of Queensland’s population increased by 1.4 years from 36.4 years to 37.8 years.

There were large variations in age structure among Queensland’s local government areas. The highest median age was recorded in Hinchinbrook Shire LGA with 52.0 years and the LGA with the lowest median age was Doomadgee Shire LGA, 20.8 years.

As at 30 June 2020, 64.6% of Queensland’s population was within the working age population, those aged 15–64 years, a decrease from 67.3% as at 30 June 2010. Diamantina Shire LGA had the highest percentage of population within the working– age range, 75.5%. Etheridge Shire LGA had the smallest percentage of working–age population, 52.6%.

The percentage of Queensland’s population aged 65 years and over as at 30 June 2020 was 16.1%, an increase of 3.4% in the decade. Migration from other states has not been this high in annual terms since 2006 and will only add to the already competitive housing market in Queensland.

Where do Interstate Migrants Settle?

According to the REIQ, interstate migrant real estate buyers are showing some interest in Queensland’s tourism centres such as Cairns, but the majority are opting for properties in the metropolitan areas of Southeast Queensland.

By far the most interstate migrants settle in Brisbane and other areas of Southeast Queensland.  It is believed that the primary reason for this is due to the concentration of labour markets located in the Southeast of the state.”

These “interstaters” are looking for a lifestyle move with access to a city centre.

According to REIQ the lifestyle property markets like the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast and popular inner city Brisbane suburbs attracted significant interest from buyers looking to make Queensland home.

Some Thoughts

Although these figures on population relate to the years 2020-21 I can see no reason why the trends in population will have changed significantly.

The percentage of the working age population of Queensland is decreasing which is a concern especially with the combined effect of an ageing Australian population and the increasing trend of retirees from NSW and Victoria moving into Queensland’s southeast corner.

Coincidentally, the Editorial in today’s Australian newspaper (27 Jun 22) discusses the concept of doubling the amount of money pensioners may earn without affecting their aged or veteran’s pension.

“With as many as two-thirds of medium and large businesses complaining that they cannot find staff, and many small businesses displaying “help wanted’’ signs, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Australian Industry Group support the proposal. It is also in keeping with current workplace and demographic trends. Australian men and women are living longer and healthier lives. …… The proportion of Australians over 65 in the workforce increased from 6.3 per cent in 1980 to 14.4 per cent in February 2020. From the start of July, the qualifying age for the age pension will increase from 66 to 67 years.”

This proposal makes sense to me and I hope it is supported by all parties in the parliament.