South Australia’s sluggish population growth

Regional population estimates released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics last week indicate that South Australia’s population rose by 0.5 per cent (9,262 persons) over the year to 30 June 2016.

South Australia’s recent population growth rate was well below the national rate of 1.4 per cent. In comparison to other states, South Australia recorded the second lowest relative annual population increase ahead of only the Northern Territory (0.2 per cent) and equal with Tasmania (0.5 per cent).

Regional data indicates that population growth has been concentrated in and around the broader Adelaide metropolitan area, which is suggestive of increasing economic concentration. The population of the Adelaide metropolitan area rose by 0.7 per cent (8,167 persons) over the last year, while the non-metropolitan population rose by just 0.2 per cent (1,095 persons). In terms of the latter, small population declines were reported for outer regions such as the Far North, Limestone Coast, Whyalla and Eyre Peninsula, Yorke and Mid North, and Murraylands and Riverland. In contrast, above average population growth rates were recorded for the inner regional areas of Barossa, and Adelaide Hills and Fleurieu and Kangaroo Island regions. Inner regional councils experiencing the fastest population growth over the year to 30 June 2016 were the Town of Gawler (2.6 per cent), Mount Barker (1.7 per cent) and Yankalilla (1.6 per cent).

Turning to metropolitan councils, those with the fastest population growth over the past year were Adelaide City Council (2.0 per cent / 456 persons), followed by the City of Playford (1.5 per cent / 1,340 persons) and Salisbury (1.1 per cent / 1,569 persons).

These latest population results are disappointing in light of SACES’s recent Issues Paper on South Australia’s demographic characteristics which identified a need to address a slower rate of population growth and reduce the rate of increase in our dependency ratio.

It is important to remember that the latest population estimates are preliminary and subject to future revision.

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