Australian Bureau of Statistics

Rate the ABS website
ABS Home > Statistics > By Release Date
ABS @ Facebook ABS @ Twitter ABS RSS ABS Email notification service
3416.0 - Perspectives on Migrants, 2011  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 21/12/2011   
   Page tools: Print Print Page Print all pages in this productPrint All RSS Feed RSS Bookmark and Share Search this Product

CHARACTERISTICS OF RECENT MIGRANTS


INTRODUCTION

People who arrive and settle in Australia come from diverse countries and backgrounds. They come into Australia in a variety of ways, such as through skilled, family, special eligibility and humanitarian programs. It is important to know the settlement outcomes of these migrants in order to make evidence-based policy decisions related to migration program design and service delivery.

Australia's permanent immigration program consists primarily of the Migration program, whose components are the Skill Stream, Family Stream and Special Eligibility Stream. The Migration Program is complemented by the Humanitarian Program for refugees and persons in humanitarian need, which accounted for 7% of the total migrant intake in 2010-11. At 30 June 2011 the Skill Stream accounted for 50% of total permanent additions, the Family Stream 26% and the Special Eligibility Stream 0.3% (Endnote 1). The remainder of the intake consisted primarily of New Zealand citizens. This group is not discussed in this article.

Migrants make important and valuable social and economic contributions to Australian society. This article begins by presenting some broad Australian level statistics on the origins and population characteristics of recent migrants from the 2010 Characteristics of Recent Migrants survey (CoRMs). This is then followed by an analysis of the characteristics of recent migrants for the five largest states: New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia.

CoRMs data are included for the distribution of recent migrants by country of birth, visa class, labour force participation, occupation and educational attainment. State level data on recent migrants is also presented from reports published by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) and some commentary is included for capital cities from a report entitled 'Population Distribution Effects of Migration in Australia' (Endnote 2).

A recent migrant is a person who entered Australia between 2001 and November 2010, was aged 15 years or over on arrival, was not an Australian or New Zealand citizen on arrival, does not hold New Zealand citizenship and held a permanent visa or Australian citizenship as at November 2010.


CHARACTERISTICS OF RECENT MIGRANTS

As at November 2010, there were over 1.4 million people in Australia who were born overseas, aged 15 years or over on arrival and who had arrived in Australia after the year 2000. Of those, more than 1.2 million were recent migrants and temporary residents. This group consisted of 410,900 people who were migrants with a permanent visa, 308,700 migrants who had acquired Australian citizenship, and 477,800 who were temporary migrants.

Permanent visa holders belong to one of four main categories: Skilled (184,000 people), Family (163,900), Humanitarian (32,300) and Other (30,700).

The recent migrants who had a permanent visa at the time of the survey or who had already acquired Australian citizenship, 719,600 people in all, are the focus of this article.

RECENT MIGRANTS BY CITIZENSHIP AND VISA STREAM, By sex - November 2010

Males
Females
Persons
Recent Migrants
'000
'000
'000

Australian citizen since arrival
142.7
165.9
308.7
Permanent
183.0
227.8
410.9
Skilled
94.3
89.7
184.0
Family
55.0
108.9
163.9
Humanitarian
*20.0
12.2
32.3
Other/n.f.d.
13.7
17.0
30.7
Total
325.8
393.8
719.6

* estimate has a relative standard error of 25% to 50% and should be used with caution
Source: Characteristics of Recent Migrants, Australia, Nov 2010 (cat. no. 6250.0)



Source countries

According to CoRMs the United Kingdom remains one of the top three countries of birth of recent migrants to Australia, accounting for 15% of all recent migrants. India was second with 13% and 10% were born in China (excluding SARS and Taiwan).

The size and geographic proximity of Australia to Asia has meant that this region is fast becoming a major source of recent migrants with 22% of recent migrants born in Southern and Central Asia, 15% born in North-East Asia and 14% born in South-East Asia.

Europe has traditionally been a major source of migrants to Australia, especially since World War II. In keeping with this, a quarter of recent migrants to Australia were born in Europe (North-West Europe (19%), Southern and Eastern Europe (5.6%)). The remaining arrivals were mainly born in the regions of Sub-Saharan Africa (11%) and North Africa and the Middle East (7.4%).


Labour force participation

The Labour Force participation rate of recent migrants aged 15 years and over was 74% while for the Australian-born was 69%. The proportion of all recent migrants employed was 68% (52% full-time employed and 16% part-time employed) compared with 66% (46% full-time and 20% part-time) for the Australian-born. Unemployed persons made up 6.3% of recent migrants, whereas 3.2% of the Australian-born were unemployed.

When unemployment is examined as a proportion of the Labour Force to produce an unemployment rate, the picture is not dissimilar. The unemployment rate of recent migrants was 8.5%, compared with a rate of 4.6% for the Australian-born.


Occupation

The November 2010 Characteristics of Recent Migrants survey showed that the largest proportion of employed recent migrants was in the 'Professionals' occupation group (27%). This was almost double the proportion employed in the next highest occupation group, 'Technicians and trades workers' (14%). A further 13% were employed as 'Clerical and administrative workers', 13% as 'Managers' and 10% as 'Labourers'.

The Population Distribution Effects of Migration in Australia report (Endnote 2) indicated that 37% of migrants arriving in Australia after 1996 were classified as being in the 'Professionals and Managers' occupation group.

EMPLOYED RECENT MIGRANTS, By major occupation group - November 2010
Graph: EMPLOYED RECENT MIGRANTS, By major occupation group—November 2010



Non-school qualifications

Almost two thirds of all recent migrants (465,400 or 65%) had obtained a non-school qualification before arrival in Australia. Of these qualified individuals, 67% held a Bachelor degree or higher qualification, 18% had obtained an Advanced diploma or Diploma and 12% a Certificate level qualification.

The most popular main field of study for recent migrants with a non-school qualification before arrival was Management and commerce (28%), followed by Engineering and related technologies (18%), Society and culture (13%), Health (10%) and Information technology (7%). One third (33%) of recent migrants who had obtained a non-school qualification before arrival had their overseas qualifications recognised in Australia.


STATE DATA

Population distribution

As at November 2010, the majority of recent migrants were living in New South Wales (35%) and Victoria (27%). Just over 14% of recent migrants resided in Western Australia, while 13% had settled in Queensland, followed by South Australia with 7.5%. The combined states and territories of Tasmania, Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory only accounted for 2.8% of recent migrants.

According to the 'Population Distribution Effects of Migration in Australia' report (Endnote 2), migrants arriving after 1996 were responsible for an 11% growth in the population of Sydney, consistent with the figures above. According to the report, the city to which migrants contributed the next greatest percentage population increase was Perth, with a 9.8% increase in its population attributed to migrants.

The following table presents data on recent migrants as a proportion of a state or territory's total population over 15 years of age. In Western Australia, recent migrants represented 5.7% of the total population, while in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, recent migrants accounted for around 4% in each state. In the combined states and territories of Tasmania, Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory, recent migrants only accounted for 2.4% of the total population 15 years and over.

DISTRIBUTION OF RECENT MIGRANTS, By sex, by state and territory - November 2010

Recent Migrants
Population over 15 years of age
Males
Females
Persons
Recent migrants
Males
Females
Persons
Recent migrants % of total population
State
'000
'000
'000
%
'000
'000
'000
%

New South Wales
115.9
138.0
253.9
35.3
2 831.9
2 927.2
5 759.1
4.4
Victoria
85.7
105.7
191.4
26.6
2 213.9
2 259.6
4 473.5
4.3
Queensland
44.0
52.6
96.6
13.4
1 740.5
1 769.7
3 510.2
2.8
South Australia
24.1
29.6
53.8
7.5
646.1
667.5
1 313.6
4.1
Western Australia
48.7
55.1
103.8
14.4
926.4
900.2
1 826.6
5.7
Other(a)
7.4
12.7
20.1
2.8
408.6
420.7
829.3
2.4
Australia
325.8
393.8
719.6
100.0
8 767.4
8 945.0
17 712.4
4.1

(a) Includes Tasmania, Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory.
Source: Characteristics of Recent Migrants, Australia, Nov 2010 (cat. no. 6250.0)



Source countries

Data from DIAC for 2010-11 (Endnote 1) shows that the United Kingdom is no longer the largest source of migrants to Australia. Migration from the United Kingdom accounted for 20,581 or 10% of the total permanent additions in 2010-11. In 2009-10 migrants from the United Kingdom accounted for 12%, slightly more than the next largest source, China.

The number of permanent additions from China increased from 25,366 in 2009-10 to 29,397 in 2010-11 accounting for about 14% of the total Migration Program. Migrants from India decreased in 2010-11 to 21,932 or about 10% of total permanent additions, from 23,342 or about 11% in 2009-10.

This change in the order of source countries for 2010-11, however, is not inconsistent with the findings of the Characteristics of Recent Migrants survey which indicated that the majority of recent migrants were born in the United Kingdom. The CoRMS data covers a ten year period during which the United Kingdom was the largest source of migrants.

Most recent migrants from the United Kingdom chose to settle in Western Australia (34%), followed by South Australia with 21%. For those recent migrants born in India, the majority resided in Victoria (17%) and New South Wales (14%). Migrants from China were also concentrated largely in New South Wales (14%) and Victoria (13%).

RECENT MIGRANTS, By top five countries of birth and state of usual residence - November 2010
Graph: RECENT MIGRANTS, By top five countries of birth and state of usual residence—November 2010



Labour force participation

The proportion of recent migrants aged 15 years and over who were employed as at November 2010 ranged from a high of 73% in Western Australia to a low of 61% in South Australia. By comparison the proportion of Australian born persons aged 15 years and over who were employed in Western Australia was about 69% and in South Australia was 66%.

PROPORTION OF AUSTRALIAN BORN PERSONS AND RECENT MIGRANTS, By labour force status and state - November 2010

Employed full-time
Employed part-time
Employed Total
Unemployed
Labour force
Not in the labour force
Total
%
%
%
%
%
%
%

Born in Australia(a)

New South Wales
44.3
19.0
63.3
3.0
66.3
33.7
100.0
Victoria
45.9
21.0
67.0
3.4
70.3
29.7
100.0
Queensland
47.9
19.1
67.0
3.3
70.3
29.7
100.0
South Australia
44.6
20.9
65.6
3.6
69.1
30.9
100.0
Western Australia
49.3
19.6
68.9
3.0
71.9
28.1
100.0
Other(b)
48.0
18.9
66.9
3.0
69.8
30.2
100.0
Total
46.2
19.7
65.9
3.2
69.1
30.9
100.0

Recent migrants

New South Wales
52.7
15.9
68.6
*6.0
74.6
25.4
100.0
Victoria
50.4
16.3
66.7
6.4
73.1
26.9
100.0
Queensland
51.8
14.0
65.8
7.8
73.7
26.3
100.0
South Australia
46.1
14.6
60.8
9.4
70.1
29.9
100.0
Western Australia
53.2
19.5
72.6
*3.9
76.5
23.5
100.0
Other(b)
55.2
15.9
71.1
*5.2
76.4
23.6
100.0
Total
51.6
16.2
67.8
6.3
74.1
25.9
100.0

* estimate has a relative standard error of 25% to 50% and should be used with caution
(a) Including External Territories.
(b) Includes Tasmania, Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory.
Source: Characteristics of Recent Migrants, Australia, Nov 2010 (cat. no. 6250.0)


The recent migrant population had a higher unemployment rate (8.5%) than the Australian born population (4.6%). Recent migrants in South Australia had the highest unemployment rate at 13.4%, followed by Queensland (10.6%) and Victoria (8.7%).

UNEMPLOYMENT RATES - November 2010
GRAPH: UNEMPLOYMENT RATES — November 2010


Western Australia and New South Wales had the highest proportion of recent migrants who were employed full-time as at November 2010, at 53%. The proportion of Australian born persons who were employed full-time was lower than the proportion of recent migrants employed full-time in all of the larger states.

The highest proportion of recent migrants employed on a part-time basis was in Western Australia (19%). A higher proportion of Australian born persons than that of recent migrants were employed on a part-time basis in all of the larger states.

RECENT MIGRANTS IN FULL-TIME OR PART-TIME EMPLOYMENT, By state - November 2010
Graph: RECENT MIGRANTS IN FULL-TIME OR PART-TIME EMPLOYMENT, By state—November 2010


Recent migrants had higher labour force participation rates than the Australian born population. Among the selected major states the labour force participation rate for recent migrants was highest in Western Australia at nearly 77% compared with 72% for Australian born persons. This was followed by New South Wales at 75% (66% for Australian born) and Queensland with 74% (70% for Australian born).


Occupations

As stated earlier the 2010 Characteristics of Recent Migrants survey showed that a higher proportion of recent migrants were employed in the 'Professionals' occupation group than any other group. The proportions of recent migrants in the 'Professionals' occupation group in each state were also higher than those for the Australian born population.

New South Wales had 28% of employed recent migrants in the 'Professionals' group followed by 14% in the 'Managers' group. Victoria had just over a quarter (26%) employed in the 'Professionals' group, while 16% were employed as 'Clerical and administrative workers'. Similarly Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia had the majority of recent migrants in the 'Professionals' group, however, in all three states the 'Technicians and trade workers' group was the next largest occupation group.

EMPLOYED RECENT MIGRANTS, By top 5 occupation groups, by state and territory - November 2010

Managers
Professionals
Technicians and Trades Workers
Community and Personal Service Workers
Clerical and Administrative Workers
Other
Total
%
%
%
%
%
%
%

Born in Australia(a)

New South Wales
13.3
21.1
14.1
9.6
16.0
25.9
100.0
Victoria
13.1
21.7
14.8
9.3
14.9
26.2
100.0
Queensland
12.0
18.9
15.7
9.3
14.0
30.1
100.0
South Australia
13.4
18.7
14.1
10.3
14.8
28.8
100.0
Western Australia
12.7
17.8
19.0
9.7
14.0
26.8
100.0
Other(b)
14.3
20.0
13.8
10.1
17.1
24.7
100.0
Australia
13.0
20.2
15.1
9.6
15.1
27.1
100.0

Recent migrants

New South Wales
14.1
28.4
8.8
12.0
13.1
23.6
100.0
Victoria
12.4
25.8
14.3
*6.5
16.1
24.8
100.0
Queensland
*13.6
28.4
*16.7
*11.2
*9.2
20.8
100.0
South Australia
*9.4
26.8
16.8
*10.5
15.5
21.1
100.0
Western Australia
14.2
25.0
22.2
*6.4
11.9
20.4
100.0
Other(b)
*5.1
40.2
*11.9
*11.2
15.7
15.9
100.0
Australia
13.0
27.4
14.0
9.5
13.4
22.7
100.0

* estimate has a relative standard error of 25% to 50% and should be used with caution
(a) Including External Territories
(b) Includes Tasmania, Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory.
Source: Characteristics of Recent Migrants, Australia, Nov 2010 (6250.0)



State capital cities

Data from the 2010 Characteristics of Recent Migrants survey enables an analysis of occupations at sub-state level. Consistent with distributions at national and state level, most recent migrants in each of the major capital cities were also employed in the 'Professionals' occupation group. The next highest occupation group for Perth, Adelaide and Brisbane was the 'Technicians and trades workers' group. In Melbourne and Sydney, the second highest concentration of employed recent migrants was in the 'Clerical and administrative workers' group.

RECENT MIGRANTS, Top five occupations by capital city - November 2010
Graph: RECENT MIGRANTS, Top five occupations by capital city—November 2010



Non-school qualifications

New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria all had about 65% of recent migrants in their state who had obtained a non-school qualification before arrival.

New South Wales and Victoria had the highest proportion of recent migrants with a Bachelor degree or higher before arrival at 46%. This was followed by Queensland with 44%, South Australia with 40% and Western Australia with 35%.

New South Wales also had the highest proportion of recent migrants with an Advanced Diploma or Diploma on arrival at 13%, while the state with the highest proportion of recent migrants with a Certificate qualification before arrival was Western Australia (17%).

LEVEL OF NON-SCHOOL QUALIFICATION BEFORE ARRIVAL OF RECENT MIGRANTS, By state - November 2010
Graph: LEVEL OF NON-SCHOOL QUALIFICATION BEFORE ARRIVAL OF RECENT ^MIGRANTS, By state—November 2010


Given the selection conditions associated with acquiring a permanent Skilled visa it is not unexpected that a high proportion of recent migrants with such a visa had non-school qualifications before arrival in Australia. The highest proportion was in South Australia with 84% of Skilled visa migrants having a non-school qualification before arrival. This compares with 81% of Skilled visa migrants in New South Wales having a non-school qualification and 73% in Victoria.

When talking in terms of specific levels of educational attainment before arrival for recent migrants on a permanent Skilled visa, South Australia had the highest proportion who had a Bachelor degree or higher before arrival with 59%.

New South Wales had the highest proportion of migrants with a Skilled visa who had an Advanced diploma or Diploma on arrival (18%), while Western Australia had a far higher proportion of Skilled visa migrants with a Certificate qualification obtained before arrival than the other states at 29%.

HIGHEST NON-SCHOOL QUALIFICATION BEFORE ARRIVAL FOR RECENT MIGRANTS WITH A SKILLED VISA, By state - November 2010
Graph: HIGHEST NON-SCHOOL QUALIFICATION BEFORE ARRIVAL FOR RECENT MIGRANTS ^WITH A SKILLED VISA, By state—November 2010


For recent migrants with a permanent Family visa, the estimated proportions of those with a non-school qualification before arrival in Australia were lower in each of the selected states. In Victoria, 70% of Family migrants had obtained a non-school qualification before arrival, while in both Western Australia and South Australia the figure was 56%.

Almost half (49%) of Family migrants in Victoria had a Bachelor degree or higher before arrival, followed by New South Wales with 43% and South Australia with 41%.

HIGHEST NON-SCHOOL QUALIFICATION BEFORE ARRIVAL FOR RECENT MIGRANTS WITH A FAMILY VISA, By state - November 2010
Graph: HIGHEST NON-SCHOOL QUALIFICATION BEFORE ARRIVAL FOR RECENT MIGRANTS ^WITH A FAMILY VISA, By state—November 2010


Those migrants who enter Australia as a result of humanitarian need or as a refugee often have vastly different circumstances and migration experiences to those migrants who come into the country via the Skilled or Family Streams. Consequently, migrants with a Humanitarian or other permanent visa do not always have the same levels of education or the same opportunities prior to arrival as other migrants.

Migrants with a humanitarian or other visa had the lowest proportion (44%) with non-school qualifications before arrival in Australia. In New South Wales and Western Australia almost 47% had obtained a non-school qualification before arrival. In contrast, South Australia had only 29% who had obtained a non-school qualification before arrival.


END NOTES

1. Department of Citizenship and Immigration, 2011, Immigration Update 2010-2011, Department of Citizenship and Immigration.

2. Hugo, G. and Harris, K., 2011, Population Distribution Effects of Migration in Australia, Department of Immigration and Citizenship.

INQUIRIES

For further information about these and related statistics, contact the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070.

Bookmark and Share. Opens in a new window

Commonwealth of Australia 2014

Unless otherwise noted, content on this website is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Australia Licence together with any terms, conditions and exclusions as set out in the website Copyright notice. For permission to do anything beyond the scope of this licence and copyright terms contact us.