Research maps COVID-19’s impact on population and internal migration

Australian capital cities collectively lost population during the pandemic, while regional areas grew.

Research from the Bureau of Communications, Arts and Regional Research (BCARR) shows the impact of the pandemic on population was very focused on capital cities, which collectively experienced population loss in 2020-21 of 46,000 or 0.3 per cent of their population. This was well beyond the impact to regional areas. With the international border closed, the strongest source of new residents for capitals was gone.

In contrast with the capitals, coastal country areas experienced their strongest population growth rate in 2020-21. While coastal and inland cities continued to grow, their rates of growth were weaker than in previous years. The growth rate for inland country areas also remained positive. While remote areas had population loss of 0.2 per cent, this was a smaller loss than in previous years.

This impact on population was largely contained in 2020-21. By 2021-22, there was a strong recovery in the population growth rates for all groups, largely returning to their 2019-20 rates.

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