Taking a closer look at internal migration to QLD’s regions

A few days ago we posted on the December 2020 quarter’s Internal Migration data from the ABS (see here for details) and noted the high number of people moving into QLD’s regions, particularly out of Greater Melbourne and Sydney. This ABS data has only been made available since the June 2020 quarter and the detailed data regarding where people have come from, along with where they have gone to, is only reported for the specific quarter (rather than for the full year). Annual data for internal migration at regional levels is also available but this does not include any detail of the source of the migrants.

As a result trying to tie the two data-sets together in any meaningful way is something of a challenge as we attempt to piece together where the ‘regional QLD’ migrants are really going.

The annual data to June 2020 when compared to the sum of the four quarterly data inputs from the quarterly release shows very similar figures for net internal migration to Greater Brisbane (up about 13,500) and Rest of QLD (up 11,500-12,000). The annual data provides us with details of which regions saw how much net internal migration. We have used this data and, assuming a similar distribution of migrants for the year to Dec 2020, estimated the results for regions across QLD for the whole of 2020. These figures are estimated net internal migration and do not tell us anything about where these people might have come from. For example, we know that in a usual year we can expect to see about net 7,000 people move from regional QLD into Greater Brisbane but we currently have no way of knowing which regions these people came from.

year to Dec ’20 Actual
Internal Migration
Estimated Internal Migration
Greater Brisbane   13,048
Brisbane – East 659
Brisbane – North -177
Brisbane – South -751
Brisbane – West -241
Brisbane Inner City 1,903
Ipswich 3,494
Logan – Beaudesert 2,543
Moreton Bay – North 3,698
Moreton Bay – South 1,920
Rest of Qld   16,970
Cairns -167
Darling Downs – Maranoa -769
Central QLD -532
Gold Coast 8,992
Mackay 146
Queensland – Outback -752
Sunshine Coast 7,575
Toowoomba 98
Townsville -183
Wide Bay 2,562
QLD 30,018

What we clearly see, if our general assumptions hold true, is that the internal migration we saw during 2020 into ‘regional QLD’ was in fact almost exclusively restricted to the SE corner of the State with the Gold and Sunshine Coasts accounting for the vast bulk of all migration.

We also see that internal migration into Greater Brisbane has been largely focused on areas outside the metropolitan centre (or as Michael Willis on LinkedIn described them, “metro-proximate”), with regions such as Ipswich, Logan and Moreton Bay all seeing strong growth.

Once we get the March 2021 quarterly data (not due until early August) we will have a full year of quarterly details about source and destination of internal migrants and will be able to make some better assumptions about which regions these internal COVID-migrants actually ended up in.

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