Centre for Population analysis of the National, state and territory population data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)
Reference period: -
The Estimated Resident Population (ERP) of Australia was 25.6 million people at 31 March 2020, as annual population growth remained steady at 1.4 per cent. This was compared to 1.5 per cent over the financial year 2018–19.
This lower population growth was driven by both lower natural increase and lower net overseas migration (NOM). Lower NOM was due to record high departures through the year to March 2020, only partly offset by record high arrivals over the same period.
This release starts to show the impacts of COVID-19 on Australia’s population, in particular impacts on NOM (see 'COVID-19 and net overseas migration' below).
This release was previously called 3101.0 Australian Demographic Statistics.
Net Overseas Migration
NOM accounted for around 0.9 percentage points (or 62 per cent) of the 1.4 per cent increase in the national ERP over the year. NOM for the year to March 2020 was 220,500 people, the lowest level since the year to June 2016.
This annual decrease in NOM was due to the 20 per cent increase in the number of departures (343,700 people), even as arrivals increased 5 per cent to 564,100 people.
Natural increase contributed around 0.5 percentage points (or 38 per cent) to annual ERP growth. Natural increase over the year to March 2020 was 136,500 people, 7,200 people lower than in the year to March 2019. This was due to the number of deaths increasing by more (8,000 more deaths) than the number of births (900 more births) since March 2019.
Net interstate migration
NIM declined slightly in the year to March 2020. Around 88,000 people moved interstate (0.3 per cent of the population) in the March quarter of 2020 compared to over 100,000 people (0.4 per cent) in the March quarter of 2019.
COVID-19 and net overseas migration
The March quarter of 2020 was when policy measures were introduced to manage the impact of COVID-19 in Australia. NOM was immediately affected by successive restrictions on international travellers. By 20 March, only Australian citizens and permanent residents could enter Australia, including New Zealanders normally resident in Australia.
Despite these travel bans, the number of arrivals in the March quarter was the highest since the early 1980s (when NOM began to be reported on a quarterly basis). This was due in part to the record number of Australian citizens, previously resident overseas, returning to Australia over the year to March 2020. Similarly, the level of departures by temporary residents in each quarter in the year to March was around record levels on a quarterly basis. On an annual basis, the number of arrivals and departures were at record highs.