Queensland is the place to be for visitors and residents
Queensland is again the place to be.
Record numbers of tourists and now a surging population in the Sunshine State.
The latest release of population data by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has produced some interesting findings for Queensland, with annual population growth increasing by 0.1 points to 1.4 per cent in the 12 months to June 2016.
Significantly, this marks an end to two years of Queensland growing at a slower rate than the national average, something that has been unprecedented in demographic statistics across the past 30 years.
In the 12 months to June 2016, the Queensland population increased by 64,700 people, representing 19.1 per cent of total national growth and the third largest increase behind Victoria (123,100) and New South Wales (105,600).
The trend in population increases across the past decade highlights the nation leading growth that Queensland experienced through to 2009, as well as the subsequent decline and moderation through to a low point in 2015.
Across the past decade, the average annual growth rate for Queensland has been 1.9 per cent, which is above the national figure of 1.6 per cent and is only exceeded by Western Australia at 2.4 per cent.
Growth in both Queensland and Western Australia during this period were heavily influenced by the mining investment boom however, with annual population growth being maintained at 2.6 per cent in the Sunshine State between 2006/07 and 2008/09, during the peak of mining investment activity.
While employment opportunities in the resource industry has been the most recent driver of population increases in Queensland, it is important to note that until recently, the state has always enjoyed growth above the national average.
In particular, Queensland has always been the main benefactor of interstate migration, particularly from New South Wales.
Across the past 20 years, net interstate migration to Queensland resulted in an average of 18,300 people (net) moving into the state each year, compared with annual figures of 2400 in Victoria, and a net loss of 17,700 in New South Wales.
The population gains from interstate migration to Queensland have previously reflected the combined population losses of New South Wales and Victoria, but in the past three years, population movement has seen the majority of net gains flow through to Victoria.
The recent rise of interstate migration to Victoria is believed to be associated with Melbourne being one of the world’s most liveable city, with its cultural offerings, environment and infrastructure making it one of the most desirable places to live.
Across the past 12 months, Victoria has also seen strong annual growth in the number of full-time positions being created, which is also believed to be another major driver in the number of interstate arrivals.
Significantly, full time jobs are growing in Victoria at a time when the nation, and Queensland in particular, are recording a contraction in full-time roles, highlighting the relative strength of the Victorian labour market at present.
While the attraction of Victoria, and Melbourne in particular, has seen interstate migration to Queensland slow to record low levels, it is does appear that a building momentum in the state economy will see more favourable conditions return in 2017.
In the 12 months to June 2016, there was net migration of 11,600 people to Queensland, which is significantly below the long run average of 18,300. However, this does represent two years of sustained improvement since the record low net gain of just 5800 people was recorded in 2013/14.
The question at present is: Why is Queensland showing an upturn in interstate migration, and a return to levels last seen in 2012?
The evidence would suggest that much of the increased interstate migration into Queensland is associated with the housing market, and in particular, an increase in the number of people relocating from New South Wales to Queensland.
Given the current position of the property cycle in New South Wales, and Sydney in particular, Queensland is becoming increasingly appealing as an affordable alternative for young families wanting to enter the property market.
This is perhaps unsurprising given that the median house price in Sydney is 77 per cent higher than Brisbane, highlighting the challenge for people wanting to find an entry point for home ownership in this market, particularly at a time of record low wages growth.
The persistence of the 0-14 age group as the largest component of net interstate migration into Queensland across the past three years certainly gives weight to the argument that most of this movement is in fact families that are relocating to achieve lower living costs.
* Migration figures for 2015/16 will be released on 30/03/2017
In Queensland, the Moreton Bay region north of Brisbane has been the major beneficiary of these gains with 5600 people (net) moving into the area from interstate in 2014/15, with average gains of 4800 people each year for the past decade.
Indeed, it is perhaps unsurprising that the top three regions for net migration in recent years have been the Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast and Moreton Bay, all of which represent affordable housing markets relative to comparable regions interstate, but also strong labour markets.
The trends in demographics have shown that population growth in Queensland is beginning to return following a decline in employment opportunities across the resources industry, and general weakness in economic activity across the past two years.
While there has been a significant drop in the overall mobility of the Australian population in recent years, it is encouraging to see that this is beginning to return to more normal levels, and Queensland in particular, is beginning to see higher levels of inflow from other states.
With interest rates expected to remain low, Queensland representing greater affordability in housing and general living costs and increased efforts to diversify the economy, migration to the state will continue to build as an attractive alternative into 2017.