Westpac predicts immigration surge will more than make up for Covid border closure by Christmas
Westpac is predicting Australia’s recent immigration surge will make up for the Covid international border closure by Christmas.
A record 454,400 migrants moved to Australia in the year to March with the annual population growth rate already among the highest in the developed world.
The big jump in new arrivals is expected to see Australia take in 240,000 more foreigners this year than it did, on average, annually before the pandemic.
Put another way, that would be double the annual average of permanent and long-term overseas arrivals before the pandemic.
Australia’s border was closed to skilled migrants and international students from March 2020 to December 2021.
This caused the first quarterly population decline since 1916, with the number of people in Australia falling by 4,200 in the three months to September 2020.
For the first time since World War I, the number of people moving overseas outpaced the birthrate.
But since then, immigration has surged with overseas arrivals making up more than 80 per cent of Australia’s population increase.
Westpac is predicting Australia’s recent immigration surge will make up for the Covid border closures by Christmas (pictured is a crowd at Sydney Olympic Park)
Westpac analyst Ryan Wells said the big jump in immigration since Australia reopened in 2021 would see the number of foreign arrivals make up for the Covid border closures by Christmas.
‘By the end of this year, migration will have fully caught up for the losses observed over the Covid period, and will be outstripping its pre-Covid trajectory,’ he said.
The current level of net overseas migration is well above the annual average level of 235,000 in the five years before the pandemic began in 2020.
Westpac is forecasting a net annual immigration pace of 475,000 in 2023, followed by 375,000 in 2024 and 275,000 in 2025.
‘The migration-driven recovery in population growth has exhibited a considerable amount of strength so far this year, and it looks as though we are approaching its peak,’ Mr Wells said.
Compared with the pre-pandemic average of 235,000, that would see an ‘excess’ gain of 240,000 in 2023, 140,000 in 2024 and 40,000 in 2025.
The Treasury Budget papers in May predicted 1.5million migrants would move to Australia in the five years to July 2027 including a record 400,000 in 2022-23 and 315,000 in 2023-24.
Australia’s population is growing at an annual pace of 2.2 per cent, which among the highest in the developed world and the total number has now surpassed 26.5million.
The population growth pace is approaching levels last seen during the post-war era, when Australia in 1949 saw a 3.1 per cent annual increase in the number of new people, following a slow start in the years after the troops had returned home.
The Business Council of Australia, which represents the big banks, supermarkets and major corporations, has been a vocal advocate of high immigration to fill skills shortages with unemployment still low at 3.7 per cent.
Westpac is expecting the jobless rate to hit 4.7 per cent by the end of 2024, which would be the highest level since October 2021 when Australia was closed to foreigners and Sydney and Melbourne were still in lockdown.
A record 454,400 migrants moved to Australia in the year to March with the annual population growth rate already among the highest in the developed world. Australia’s border was closed to migrants, international students from March 2020 to December 2021 (pictured is an image of Melbourne during lockdowns in July 2021)