TASMANIA'S lagging economy could bring a new challenge - a falling population for the first time this century.
The state's population, which grew during the 2000s and peaked at an extra 5916 people in 2008, slowed to add just 390 people in 2012, and is likely to record a loss in 2013.
Interstate migration has put the brakes on Tasmania's growth, with many more people leaving the state for economic opportunities than coming to Tasmania.
In 2011 and 2012, 4040 more people left Tasmania for the mainland than chose to live here.
According to workplace demographer Lisa Denny, while Tasmania had consistently lost people in their 20s to bigger cities and opportunities abroad, that loss now extended to families.
``Our most recent age-based data says we've had a net loss of people aged 0-49, which indicates families are leaving the state - the first time we've had that loss since 2001-02,'' Ms Denny said.
``The reasons that people tend to move interstate are for economic opportunity and for personal needs so we do need to provide people with a reason to move here.''
Tasmania's last population downturn came in the late 1990s.
Author and commentator George Megalogenis believes the state ``needs to bet on people from both interstate and abroad and encourage an entrepreneurial environment''.
``Tasmania should attract more than exiles from Sydney's property market by finding a way to encourage people by hook or by crook to move to Tassie,'' Mr Megalogenis said.
``You wouldn't go to Tassie thinking there were jobs there, so Tassie's got to lure them there on the prospects.''
In Hobart last week, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd talked up the prospect of broadband as key to cashing in on the state's interstate and international reputation.
``I run into so many people around the world, not just Oz, who want to come and live here,'' Mr Rudd said.
``(People) want to be connected to the rest of the world and that means having high speed affordable broadband, whether it's in hotels in downtown Hobart, up at Cradle Mountain, over at Freycinet, as well as all the businesses who are here.''
Both Ms Denny and Mr Megalogenis suggested higher education as a boom industry.
``If you're in a position to bid for foreign students, young people with energy, that's good,'' Mr Megalogenis said.
The ABS records Tasmania's population at 512,422 people at December 2012.
The state's unemployment figure for July of 8.4 per cent was the highest in the nation.