Australia's population growth remains low

Media Release

Australia's population grew by just 0.3 per cent in the year to September 2021 according to data released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

ABS Demography Director, Beidar Cho said the impact of COVID-19 related international border closures resulted in net migration losses for the sixth straight quarter and slowed Australia’s population growth.

“Australia’s population was at a near standstill through the September quarter of 2021, growing by under 0.1 per cent (12,100 people) to 25.8 million, an annual increase of 68,900 people,” Ms Cho said.

“In contrast, prior to the pandemic, Australia’s population grew by 383,000 in the year to September 2019 driven by 242,000 overseas migration gains.”

Population growth over the past 12 months was entirely attributed to natural increase (adding 136,200 people), while net overseas migration was negative (a loss of 67,300 people) over the period.

a. Annual components calculated at the end of each quarter.

With 18 months of COVID-19 international travel restrictions in place, net overseas migration was down by 142,900 people compared with the previous year, which was also affected by international travel restrictions. Arrivals decreased more (-56 per cent) than departures (-21 per cent) over this latest period,

In the year to September 2021, net overseas migration (-67,300) was the result of 159,900 overseas migration arrivals and 227,200 departures.

There were 303,700 births and 167,500 deaths during this period. The resulting natural increase was up 2.1 per cent from the previous year, the increase in births outpacing an increase in deaths.

Annual population change by state and territory
 Population at 30 September 2021 ('000)Change over previous year ('000)Change over previous year (%)
New South Wales8,186,78924.20.3
South Australia1,772,7872.60.1
Western Australia2,685,16517.80.7
Northern Territory245,865-0.6-0.2
Australian Capital Territory430,469-0.3-0.1

(a) Includes Other Territories comprising Jervis Bay Territory, Christmas Island, the Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Norfolk Island. 

For regional population estimates see Regional Population, Australia, available for free download from

Media notes

  • For more detailed annual information on the components of population, see Births, Deaths and Overseas migration.
  • When reporting ABS data you must attribute the Australian Bureau of Statistics (or the ABS) as the source.
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