Australia to get bigger and older faster

The pandemic may have taken a chunk out of Australia's forecasted population growth but it's otherwise business as usual for longer-term demographic trends.

Australia is still getting bigger, with the population expected to close in on 30 million within a decade from 26 million now.

The nation is also getting older faster thanks to the pause in overseas migration when borders were shut during the pandemic.

And fertility rates are still trending downward, a phenomenon in most developed nations.

For policymakers, the prospect of an older Australia poses a challenge, with fewer people of working age able to support those in later stages of life who depend more heavily on healthcare and other government services

Demographics Group co-founder Simon Kuestenmacher said the number of people in their 80s was set to soar, which would mean a dramatic rise in the number of people needing daily or regular care.

"We'll need a miracle to deliver enough aged care workers... there's a ludicrous shortage," he told AAP.

He said labour shortages were becoming the status quo, which would shift the policy focus from creating enough jobs to finding enough workers to do the jobs that need doing.

Automation, however, will do part of the heavy lifting by eliminating some tasks in the economy so the workforce can be reshuffled towards the caring economy and other areas of need.

"When we think about automation in aged care, we are not talking about robots caring for you, it's about automation in all sectors of the workforce to free up workers to care for humans," Mr Kuestenmacher said.

Commenting on the looming workforce problem, Treasurer Jim Chalmers said his government was selecting from a full menu of solutions, including allowing parents to work more, training Australians to fill skills gaps and improving the migration program.

"We want a population and a society that is growing in welcome and healthy ways and a workforce to support an ageing population," he said on Friday.

Mr Kuestenmacher said the report also delivered a helpful reminder to keep building the infrastructure to support a growing population.

"If we don't create a bucketload of housing then the housing crisis is sure to get worse," he said.

He said policymakers had typically failed to consider the effect of migration policy on housing.

Fortunately, he said there were signs of a growing appetite for housing reforms that would genuinely improve supply and affordability, such as NSW's new land tax policy.