More people emigrated from, than immigrated into, Australia in 2020-21

Media Release

There were more people departing from, than arriving into, Australia during the pandemic, reversing the historical migration pattern. This led to a decline in net overseas migration in every state and territory in 2020-21, according to data released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics(ABS).

ABS Director of Migration Statistics, Jenny Dobak said "During the COVID-19 pandemic, many historical patterns of migration have changed."

"Australia recorded a net loss of 88,800 people in 2020-21 from the national population due to the impact of COVID-19 on overseas migration."

"Contrast this to 2018-19, prior to the pandemic, when the country recorded a net gain of 241,300 people," Ms Dobak said.

Nationally, when compared to a year ago, emigration fell 25 per cent (234,600 from 314,200) and immigration fell 71 per cent (145,800 from 506,900). 

Ms Dobak said "In the decade prior to the pandemic, there was an annual net gain from overseas migration for each state and territory." 

"However in 2020-21, during the pandemic, there was a decline in net overseas migration in every state and territory."

Net overseas migration - 2020-21

Largest to smallest loss of people
  • Vic.  -56,100
  • Qld  -14,400
  • WA    -5,600
  • NSW  -5,500
  • SA      -3,300
  • ACT    -3,100
  • Tas.        -440
  • NT         -380

While net overseas migration was negative over the past 12 months, the population growth that was recorded in 2020-21 was entirely due to natural increase, as noted in the following ABS Media Release "Australia's population grew by .2 percent." 

a. Estimates from September quarter 2020 are preliminary. 

Many of the changes observed in the data in this release are mainly due to the impact of the pandemic. It covers data up to 30 June 2021 and therefore includes the first 15 months of the pandemic period.

For more information see the ABS publication Overseas Migration, 2020-21.

For the latest quarterly migration estimates, see the ABS publication National, state and territory population.

For Australia's regional overseas migration estimates, see the ABS publication Regional Population.

Media notes

  • Consistent with international definitions, a person is regarded by the ABS as a migrant to Australia if they have been, or are expected to be, residing in Australia for 12 months or more, regardless of their citizenship, type of visa, or legal status. These statistics therefore, differ from information on the numbers of visas granted by the Department of Home Affairs.

  • When reporting ABS data you must attribute the Australian Bureau of Statistics (or the ABS) as the source.
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