Westpac predicts immigration surge will more than offset Covid border closures by Christmas
Westpac predicts Australia’s recent immigration surge will offset Covid international border closures by Christmas.
A record 454,400 migrants moved to Australia in the year to March, with an annual population growth rate already among the highest in the developed world.
The surge in new arrivals is expected to see Australia welcome 240,000 more foreigners this year than it did on average each year before the pandemic.
In other words, this would be double the annual average of permanent and long-term arrivals abroad before the pandemic.
The Australian 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 going overseas has exceeded the birth rate.
But since then, immigration has increased sharply, with overseas arrivals accounting for more than 80 percent of Australia’s population increase.
Westpac predicts Australia’s recent immigration surge will offset Covid border closures by Christmas (pictured, a crowd at Sydney Olympic Park)
Westpac analyst Ryan Wells said the sharp increase in immigration since Australia reopened in 2021 would see the number of foreign arrivals offset Covid border closures by Christmas.
“By the end of this year, migration will have fully caught up with the losses seen during the Covid period and will exceed 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 forecasts a net annual immigration rate of 475,000 in 2023, followed by 375,000 in 2024 and 275,000 in 2025.
“The migration-driven recovery in population growth has been considerably stronger this year and it appears we are nearing its peak,” Mr Wells said.
Compared to the pre-pandemic average of 235,000, this would result in an “excess” gain of 240,000 in 2023, 140,000 in 2024 and 40,000 in 2025.
May’s Treasury budget documents predicted 1.5 million migrants would settle in 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 rate of 2.2 percent, one of the highest in the developed world, and its total number now exceeds 26.5 million.
The rate of population growth is approaching levels last seen in the post-war period, when Australia in 1949 experienced an annual increase in the number of new people of 3.1 percent, after a slow start in the years following the troops’ return home.
The Business Council of Australia, which represents big banks, supermarkets and corporations, has been a strong advocate of high immigration to address skills shortages with the unemployment rate still low at 3.7 per cent.
Westpac expects the unemployment rate to reach 4.7% 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 always confined.
A record 454,400 migrants moved to Australia in the year to March, with an annual population growth rate already among the highest in the developed world. The Australian border was closed to migrants and international students from March 2020 to December 2021 (pictured is an image of Melbourne during the lockdowns in July 2021)