More growth in the regions during the pandemic
The population of regional Australia grew by 70,900 people during 2020-21, in contrast to a decline of 26,000 for the capital cities, according to figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
ABS Director of Demography Beidar Cho said: "This is the first time since 1981 that Australia's regional population grew more than the capital cities, due to changing migration patterns during the pandemic."
"Regional New South Wales (up 26,800) and regional Queensland (24,100) led the way in terms of population growth over 2020-21, with regional Victoria (15,700) also increasing."
In contrast, Melbourne declined by 60,500 people and Sydney by 5,200.
In 2020-21, the overall decrease of 26,000 reflects increases in four capital cities (Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and Canberra) offset by declines in the other four. This is the first overall population decline for the capitals ever recorded by the ABS.
The capital city decline was due to COVID-19 related international border closures, and increased movements to the regions.
|Capital city||Change 2020-21||Population 30 June 2021||Regional||Change 2020-21||Population 30 June 2021|
|Sydney||-5,200||5,361,500||New South Wales||26,800||2,827,200|
|All capitals||-26,000||17,377,000||Regional Australia||70,900||8,361,200|
Despite Sydney and Melbourne having overall population losses, the largest growth areas in the country were outer-suburban areas within these two capitals where population growth was driven by net internal migration gains.
Riverstone - Marsden Park in Sydney's outer north-west grew by 7,400 people over 2020-21, while Cranbourne East in Melbourne's south-east grew by 5,000.
Inner city populations declined the most over 2020-21. The largest declining area was inner Melbourne, whose population decreased by 5,900, while Sydney - Haymarket - The Rocks declined by 1,700.
|State/Territory||Area with largest increase||Change|
30 June 2021
|Area with largest decrease||Change|
30 June 2021
|New South Wales||Riverstone - Marsden Park||7,400||48,000||Sydney - Haymarket - The Rocks||-1,700||31,500|
|South Australia||Munno Para West - Angle Vale||1,100||16,700||Unley - Parkside||-390||20,700|
|Western Australia||Ellenbrook||1,700||47,700||Nedlands - Dalkeith - Crawley||-390||19,300|
|Northern Territory||Palmerston - South||670||7,200||Brinkin - Nakara||-190||3,200|
|Australian Capital Territory||Denman Prospect||780||1,700||Civic||-270||4,600|
For the first time since 1981, Australia’s regional population grew more than the capital cities. The population of regional Australia grew by seventy-thousand, nine hundred people during the 2020-2021 financial year, while capital cities overall saw a decline of twenty-six-thousand people.
Regional New South Wales saw an increase of twenty-six-thousand, eight-hundred people, followed by regional Queensland with an increase of twenty-four-thousand, one-hundred, and regional Victoria up fifteen-thousand, seven-hundred people. In contrast, Melbourne’s population decline was sixty-thousand, five-hundred people and Sydney by five-thousand and two hundred, mostly due to reduced overseas migration with closed international borders.
While the populations of Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and Canberra all increased, the decline in the remaining capital cities more than offset these gains. This led to an overall population decrease for the capitals. Interestingly, this is the first overall population decline for the capitals recorded by the ABS.
Inner city populations declined the most over the 2020-2021 financial year. Inner Melbourne had the largest decline, with the population decreasing by five thousand, nine hundred, while Sydney’s The Rocks area declined by one-thousand, seven hundred.
On the other hand, outer-suburban areas saw population growth, driven by net internal migration gains. Marsden Park in Sydney grew by seven-thousand, four hundred over this period and Cranbourne East in Melbourne’s south-east went up by five-thousand people.
- Unless otherwise stated, capital cities mentioned in this release are Greater Capital City Statistical Areas and areas are Statistical Areas Level 2 as defined in the 2016 Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS).
- When reporting ABS data you must attribute the Australian Bureau of Statistics (or the ABS) as the source.
- For media requests and interviews, contact the ABS Media Team via firstname.lastname@example.org (8.30am-5pm Mon-Fri).
- Subscribe to our media release notification service to get notified of ABS media releases or publications upon their release.