Issues Magazine

Population Growth to Ease


BIS Shrapnel

According to a report released on 17 May 2010 by forecasting group BIS Shrapnel, population growth will slow markedly in the coming two years. The group says that the breakneck pace of population growth over the past few years can be explained by an unusually large rise in long-stay visa holders such as foreign students and workers. However, a slackening in the jobs market and a slower pace of enrolments by foreign students is expected to mean that this one-off bulge in numbers will pass through.

The report says that annual net overseas migration will fall from 298,900 in the year to June 2009 to 240,000 in the year to June 2010. It will fall more dramatically to 175,000 in 2010–11 and 145,000 in 2011–12.

The May 2010 Federal Budget froze the overall permanent migration intake at 168,700 places. BIS Shrapnel’s senior economist, Jason Anderson, said that net overseas migration was likely to slow in coming years as people left after their three- or four-year stay and fewer people arrived on temporary programs. More Australians would also move offshore as global job prospects picked up.

‘’Most of the rise in net overseas migration over the past three years has been the result of a surge in the number of long-term visitors, not permanent migrants,’’ he said. ‘’The increase was greatest in 2008–09 when the net population gain from long-term visitors accounted for 74 per cent of the national net overseas migration gain of 298,000 persons.’’

But he said that the labour market had cooled, and there would now be less demand for temporary workers. A stronger Australian dollar and the tightening of government criteria for foreign students seeking citizenship would also slow the pace of long-stay temporary migration.