Treasury lowers its national population forecast

·2-min read

The pandemic and ageing have eased Australia's population squeeze.

Migration figures are expected to return to their pre-pandemic patterns from mid-2024, according to the federal budget papers.

Net overseas migration of 400,000 in 2022/23 is forecast to ease to 315,000 in 2023/24 and 260,000 in 2024/25.

They are then expected to stabilise at 260,000 until at least mid-2027.

By the time border restrictions were relaxed at the end of 2021, net overseas migration was cumulatively almost 500,000 lower than expected prior to the pandemic.

Treasury says on current forecasts, net overseas migration will still be cumulatively 315,000 lower than pre-pandemic forecasts by June 2023 and 215,000 lower by June 2024.

Coupled with lower fertility assumptions, Australia's total population is expected to be 750,000 people, or 2.5 per cent, smaller in June 2031 compared with pre-pandemic forecasts.

Over the decade to 2033, the share of the population aged 65 years and over is projected to increase by 2.2 percentage points to 19.7 per cent, while for those aged 85 years and over it is expected to increase by one percentage point to 3.2 per cent.

Over the same period, the share of younger people will continue to fall with those aged zero to 14 years projected to decrease by 1.3 percentage points to 16.7 per cent.

The Albanese government is working on a new migration strategy to be released later this year.

In the lead-up to its release, it has announced about 70 per cent of places in the 2023/24 permanent migration program will be allocated to what is known as the "skill stream", and the government will improve pathways to permanency for temporary skilled migrants.

Temporary graduate visa holders with select degrees will get an extra two years of post-study work rights, improving the pipeline of skilled labour into certain sectors.

As well, the temporary skilled migration income threshold will increase to $70,000 from July 1.

However, the budget included a hike in visa application charges.