World Population Day brings Tasmania's growth into focus

NEW TASMANIANS: Tasmania's estimated resident population increased by 753 persons in the December 2016 quarter.
NEW TASMANIANS: Tasmania's estimated resident population increased by 753 persons in the December 2016 quarter.

Tuesday marked World Population Day, and it seems Tasmanians had plenty to celebrate.

The latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics confirmed the state’s population is growing at its fastest rate in six years, with the estimated resident population increasing by 753 person in the December quarter, bringing the total to 519,050.

The increased quarterly change included an additional 226 persons due to new births, 383 migrating from overseas and a 144 from interstate.

The figures were welcomed by the state government, who aim for the population to reach 650,000 by 2050.

“The growth is a reflection of Tasmania being the best place to work, live and raise and a family,” Treasurer Peter Gutwein said.

“We will continue to work hard as a government to create jobs and deliver a strong economy to make Tasmania the ideal state in which to live.”

It was only last year that top economist Saul Eslake outlined a raft of issues for the future of the state’s population in his Tasmania Report. He said the problems it faces are not unique for islands.

“My Tasmania Report shows that Tasmania's population is set to age much more rapidly, relative to the rest of Australia, over the next three decades than it has done over the past three decades,” he said.

“And this means that, all else being equal [in particular, employment participation rates, average hours worked and productivity], Tasmanian living standards [as measured by per capita gross product] will decline even further relative to the rest of Australia - from about 27 percent below the national average in 2015-16 to about 40 per cent below the national average by 2040-41 - because of the significant rise in the proportion of Tasmania's population who will be 65 and over, and hence most likely not working [relative to the rest of Australia's population].

“My report also shows that Tasmania has much in common with other islands in this regard - most islands around the world, except for Manhattan, Java and Honshu, tend to lose young adults to their respective ‘mainlands’ and retain or attract a high proportion of retirees.”