POST 4: WEST AUSTRALIA’S NET OVERSEAS MIGRATION MOVES CLOSER TO LONG TERM AVERAGE.

INTRODUCTION

Immigration West Australia Snapshot provides a review of the latest population and immigration data from the Australia Bureau of Statistics.

Australia powers on with fast paced population growth.

The Federal Government’s mass migration program continues to fuel the Nation’s population growth. For, the year ending September 2018, Australia grew by an extra 395,100 people.[1] Australia’s capital cities are where most of the population growth is occurring. For the year to June 20, 2018, the number of people living in Australia’s Greater Capital Cities increased by 307, 800.[2]

Australia’s Net Overseas Migration continues to outpace natural increase in population growth.

The growth of Australia’s population is comprised of natural increase (the number of births minus the number of deaths) and net overseas migration (NOM).  Figure 1 reveals the main driver of population growth for the year ended 30 September 2018 is Net Overseas Migration (60.8%) with natural increase well behind at (39.2%).[3] Compare the rise and fall in NOM to the more predictable and stable trends for natural increases in Australia’s population (shown in Figure 1). The variability in population growth is predominately riven by changing trends and seasonality in NOM. [4]

For the year to 30 September 2018, Australia’s preliminary NOM estimate was 240,100 people. This was 7.5% (19,400 people) lower than the net overseas migration estimated for the year ended 30 September 2017 (259,400 people).

Figure 1: Australia population growth quarterly, September 2014 to September 2018.

(Source: ABS, 2019.[5])

More than 1 million long term migrants arrive in Australia.

Australia is experiencing a very high migration intake in comparison to previous years (see Table 1 below). There where 526,270 long term migrant arrivals for the year ended 30 June 2018. In contrast the number of NOM departures was much lower at (289,050 people).[6]

For the year ending 30 June 2017 (540,150 people) and 30 June 2018 (526,270 people), a total of 1,066,420 million long-term migrants arrived in Australia. To put in perspective, in the time frame of two years the number of migrants arrivals was equivalent to the population of a metropolitan city. According to Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, member countries (Australia is a member country) are classified as metropolitan areas if their population is between 500,000 and 1.5 million.[7]

[table id=26 /]

(Source: ABS, 2019.[8])

Some of the key data from Table 1 reveals that in 2006 there where 376,530 migrant arrivals. By 2018 this figure had increased to 526,270, representing a 39.7% increase. Also of interest is the continued escalation of Temporary work visas. In 2006 Temporary visas comprised 42.9% of migrant arrivals. By 2018 this had gone up to 62.2% of total arrivals. On the other hand in 2006 permanent skilled visas made up 23.6% of long-term arrivals. By 2018 the portion of permanent arrivals had dropped to 16.6%.

WHAT DIRECTION IS WEST AUSTRALIA HEADING WITH POPULATION AND MIGRATION?

In 2017-18 the number of people living in Greater Perth increased by 21,600 (1.1%), this represents an increase on Perth’s 2016-17 population growth rate of (0.9%). The number living outside Greater Perth fell by 580 people (-0.1%).[9] The fastest growth area was in Alkimos – Eglinton (up by a significant 15%), located in the North West corridor of Perth.

Natural increase sustains West Australia’s population growth.

At the state and territory level, population growth has three main components: natural increase, net overseas migration (NOM) and net interstate migration.[10] All Australian states and territories except the Northern Territory, experienced positive population growth for the year ended 30 September.

Western Australia stood out from the rest. It was the sole state where natural increase was the major contributor to population change. In recent years, Western Australia has achieved higher Total Fertility Rates (TFR) than most of the other states. Figure 2 compares West Australian and Australian birth rates with WA emerging with higher rates in the previous 6 years. This has helped to sustain the state’s population at a time when NOM arrivals have reduced from the high peak of 74,380 people in 2012-13 to 44,898 in 2017-18.[11]

It is interesting to note that Western Australia has a much healthier TFR than many other advanced economies. For example the European Union (EU) had a TFR of 1.59 in 2017. Of the 28 EU member states, France reported the highest total fertility rate with 1.90 live births per woman. The lowest was recorded in Malta with 1.26 live births per woman.[12]

[visualizer id=”3392″]

(Source: ABS, 2019.[13])

Notes: Rates for Australia and the states and territories are based on birth registration data for the reference year only. [14]

West Australian Net Overseas Migration.

All states and territories, except the Northern Territory, recorded positive NOM for the year ending 30 September 2018.  Western Australia had the largest percentage increase in NOM at 14.2%.

The number of NOM arrivals in Western Australia decreased by 4.5%. Nonetheless NOM arrivals remain significant at 45,016 migrant arrivals for the year ended 30 Sept 2018, compared to 47,119 for 30 Sept 2017.

Western Australia recorded the largest percentage decrease in NOM departures at 10.8% for the year ending 30 September 2018. The NOM departures at 31,395 people, was considerably less than migrant arrivals at 45,016 for the year ended 30 Sept 2018.[15] The significant decrease in West Australia’s NOM departures contributed to the large percentage increase in NOM for the year ending September 2018.

With regards to interstate migration, activity in WA’s resource industries has been shrinking for the past few years and this may be one of the reasons Western Australia experienced one of the highest net losses from interstate migration (10,300 for the year ended 30 September 2018). However, it is worth noting that interstate arrivals are not an insignificant number, with 28,738 people arriving in WA for the year ending 30 September 2018.[16]

Figure 3 below provides a look at how much NOM has contributed to the growth of West Australia’s population since 1972. Some of the key features in Figure 3 reveal that since 1972, NOM has tended to gravitate between 10,000 and 20,000 per year. In fact the long term average NOM for Western Australia from 1972 to 2018 is 16,141. At this stage, 2 years after the implementation of a much reduced West Australian Skilled Migration Overseas List (WASMOL). And the termination of the Regional Sponsored visa program in Greater Perth. It is premature to suggest that State migration policy is having much impact on NOM. However, Figure 3 highlights that in 2014 NOM was slightly above the long term average gradually reducing to below the average by 2018.

The other stand out is the NOM ‘outlier’ which soared to 50,780 in 2012. This was well above the State’s average NOM since 1972. Noticeable is the much higher than average Net amounts between 2008 and 2013. Previous Posts have discussed some of the policy developments at the Commonwealth government level, which led to these sudden changes in WA’s net overseas migration. The Commonwealth Government’s Department of Immigration and Border Protection has responsibility for immigration policy. It also makes the final determinations on all applications for humanitarian, business and skilled visas. The Commonwealth Government allows each Australian State and Territory to nominate skilled migrants under a broad range of occupations, to meet their own local workforce needs.[17] State, Territory and Regional nominated visas provided 28,850 permanent places in the 2018-19 Australian migration-planning program.

[visualizer id=”3382″]

(Sources: ABS, 2019 [18] & ABS, 2019.[19])

(Notes: From September quarter 1971 to June quarter 2006 inclusive, net overseas migration (NOM) was the difference between permanent and long-term arrivals and permanent and long-term departures. For September quarter 2006 onwards estimates for NOM are the difference between the number of incoming travellers who stay in Australia for 12 months or more and are added to the population (NOM arrivals) and the number of outgoing travellers who leave Australia for 12 months or more and are subtracted from the population (NOM departures).[20]

How reliable is West Australian migration planning?

It is generally accepted that Western Australia did need an increase in skilled labour from overseas during the construction phase of the state’s large resource projects. Furthermore, major resource and infrastructure projects where under construction during the periods that reveal rapid surges in NOM in Figure 3 above. The key question is did Australia’s migration program deliver productive outcomes for Western Australia during these periods? Take one visa program for example, the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme. In 2012, the year West Australia had its highest net overseas migration highlighted in Figure 3. The Federal Labor party decided to include Greater Perth as eligible for RSMS permanent work visas. This led to a large increase (75%) in RSMS visas granted in Western Australia. Overseas students where one of the main recipients of this visa and to gain the RSMS visa there was no requirement for experience or skills in the occupation applied for (see Post 2). Given that the RSMS is part of Australia’s permanent visa skills stream. It is surprising that the RSMS was allowed to operate under non-existing skills matching criteria. This loophole has been fixed and RSMS applicants now require proof of at least 3 years experience in the role applied for. Post 3 provides updated information on the RSMS, which is currently under surveillance due to the considerable increase in the number of misleading visa applications.

The other concern is the accuracy of West Australian Government and Business predictions of skills shortages and migration requirements. For example, in 2011 the WA Department of Training and Workforce Development (DTWD) produced a Skilled Migration Strategy. There analysis suggested that Western Australia might experience a deficit of up to 150,000 workers by 2017.[21]  They’re forecast was highly optimistic. In fact in 2017 Western Australia had the highest unemployment rate in Australia see Table 2 below. Not only that but the WA Chamber of Commerce and Industry where also bullish with there estimates that there will be a short fall of more that 210,000 workers in Western Australia by 2020.[22]

[table id=25 /]

(Source: ABS, 2018.[23])

Notes: The smoothing of seasonally adjusted series to produce ‘trend’ series reduces the impact of the irregular component of the seasonally adjusted series. [24]

Without responsible migration policy – changes to population can be sweeping.

When it comes to overseas immigration, responsible well-researched policy and decision-making is critical. The changes (at the local and city level) brought on by sudden surges in migration can be staggering. In 2008 West Australia’s population growth peaked at 73,922.[25] The highest population growth recorded for Western Australia on Australian Bureau of Statistics records for the year ended 31 December 1830 on-ward (calendar years).[26] Resulting in a population growth rate of 3.5% in 2008, higher than some 3rd World Countries. Driven predominantly by overseas migration, the State’s population soared by over half a million people in the space of ten years, 2006-2016. Growing faster than all other Australian states and territories.[27]

References.

[1] Australian Bureau of Statistics, ‘3101.0 – Australian Demographic Statistics, Sep 2018’, 2019 <http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/3101.0> [accessed 21 March 2019].

[2] Australian Bureau of Statistics, ‘3218.0 – Regional Population Growth, Australia, 2017-18’, 2019 <http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/3218.0> [accessed 28 March 2019].

[3] Australian Bureau of Statistics, ‘3101.0 – Australian Demographic Statistics, Sep 2018’.

[4] Australian Bureau of Statistics, ‘3412.0.55.004 – Information Paper: Improvements to the Estimation of Net Overseas Migration, Mar 2018’, 2018 <http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/3412.0.55.004> [accessed 23 March 2019].

[5] Australian Bureau of Statistics, ‘3101.0 – Australian Demographic Statistics, Sep 2018’.

[6] Australian Bureau of Statistics, ‘3101.0 – Australian Demographic Statistics, Sep 2018’.

[7] Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, ‘Population by Region – Urban Population by City Size – OECD Data’, OECD, 2018 <http://data.oecd.org/popregion/urban-population-by-city-size.htm> [accessed 28 March 2019].

[8] Australian Bureau of Statistics, ‘3101.0 – Australian Demographic Statistics, Sep 2018’.

[9] Australian Bureau of Statistics, ‘3218.0 – Regional Population Growth, Australia, 2017-18’.

[10] Australian Bureau of Statistics, ‘3101.0 – Australian Demographic Statistics, Sep 2018’.

[11] Australian Bureau of Statistics, ‘3101.0 – Australian Demographic Statistics, Sep 2018’.

[12] European Commission, ‘Fertility Statistics – Statistics Explained’, 2019 <https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Fertility_statistics> [accessed 6 April 2019].

[13] Australian Bureau of Statistics, ‘3101.0 – Australian Demographic Statistics, Sep 2018’.

[14] Australian Bureau of Statistics, ‘3301.0 – Births, Australia, 2017’, 2018 <http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/Lookup/3301.0Explanatory%20Notes12017?OpenDocument> [accessed 6 April 2019].

[15] Australian Bureau of Statistics, ‘3101.0 – Australian Demographic Statistics, Sep 2018’.

[16] Australian Bureau of Statistics, ‘3101.0 – Australian Demographic Statistics, Sep 2018’.

[17] Department of Training and Workforce Development, ‘Workforce Development’, 2019 <https://www.dtwd.wa.gov.au/workforce-development#the-state-priority-occupation-list> [accessed 19 April 2019].

[18] Australian Bureau of Statistics, ‘3101.0 – Australian Demographic Statistics, Sep 2018’.

[19] Australian Bureau of Statistics, ‘3105.0.65.001 – Australian Historical Population Statistics, 2016’, 2019 <http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/PrimaryMainFeatures/3105.0.65.001?OpenDocument&gt; [accessed 22 April 2019].

[20] Australian Bureau of Statistics, ‘3105.0.65.001 – Australian Historical Population Statistics, 2016’.

[21] Department of Training and Worforce Development, Western Australian Skilled Migration Strategy (Perth, W.A.: Department of Training and Workforce Development, 2011).

[22] Department of Training and Worforce Development.

[23] Australian Bureau of Statistics, ‘6202.0 – Labour Force, Australia, Dec 2017’, 2018 <http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/Previousproducts/6202.0Main%20Features2Dec%202017?opendocument&tabname=Summary&prodno=6202.0&issue=Dec%202017&num=&view=> [accessed 17 April 2019].

[24] Australian Bureau of Statistics, ‘6202.0 – Labour Force, Australia, Dec 2017’.

[25] Australian Bureau of Statistics, ‘3105.0.65.001 – Australian Historical Population Statistics, 2016’.

[26] Australian Bureau of Statistics, ‘3105.0.65.001 – Australian Historical Population Statistics, 2016’.

[27] Australian Bureau of Statistics, ‘3218.0 – Regional Population Growth, Australia, 2016’, 2017 <http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/allprimarymainfeatures/7B33A7E366915C49CA258291001DFE75?opendocument> [accessed 14 April 2019].

 

 

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