When I first arrived in Australia in 2007 the place was booming. There were plenty of jobs around and if you didn’t like the job you had, you could get a new one. All the tradies had more work than they could handle and it was often difficult to get someone to turn up.
Electricians, plumbers, plasterers, gardeners, you name it, they could pick and choose their jobs there was so much work around.
Everybody in Australia was busy, busy, busy…
Nine years later, things here are very different. Jobs are really much harder to come by; I wrote about that last year in my post What’s It Really like Trying to Find a Job in Australia? Many tradies are scratching their heads for work. No problem getting them to turn up these days, but then again, not many people want much done.
People here are not so busy now…
I decided to look at some figures.
Reports on Migration Programmes
Every year the Australian Government works out its migration program, attaching numbers to exactly what it wants.
For example, in the year 2009–10 the migration program planned for:
- Family: 60,300
- Skill: 108,100
- Special Eligibility: 300
- Total: 168,700
In the event, the outcome was 168,623 people moved to Australia that year, just 77 short of the target.
I’ve also looked at the figures for the last four years, that’s 2012-13 through to 2015-16 and each of them are about the same. The planning level for family migrants has remained at around 61,000 or so, but the skill planning level has risen to around 129,000.
The totals expected for each of these years has been 190,000 or very close to it. The outcome in each and every one of those four years was pretty much exactly what was planned for.
So, whatever Australia plans for, or effectively allows, they get. My notion that migration might slow down because the economy has slowed down here in Australia seems to be a false assumption.
But there is something that is different.
Source countries of migrants
I’ve written about this twice before:
- 2009: Australia – A Nation of Immigrants
At that time, the top three countries of origin for migrants coming to Australia was:
- New Zealand
Three years later the top three were:
So, India in, New Zealand out, China up and UK down. Let’s see what’s happening right now with some up-to-date figures.
Top 10 source countries for migrants 2015–16
Here is a list of the top 10 source countries for migrants coming to Australia during the financial year 2015/16, so year-end 30th of June 2016. As you can see, the list includes the numbers:
- India – 40,145
- China – 29,008
- UK – 18,950
- Philippines – 11,917
- Pakistan – 6708
- Vietnam – 5341
- Nepal – 5095
- Irish Republic – 4903
- South Africa – 4337
- Malaysia – 4265
What about the USA?
As you can see, the USA did not make the top 10 list for 2015-16. This isn’t unusual, the last appearance the US made in the top 10 was in 2009-10 when they came 10th. During that year, 3222 people moved from the USA to Australia.
UK to Australia immigration down
Here are the numbers:
- 2009-10: 25,738
- 2010-11: 23,931
- 2011-12: 25,274
- 2012-13: 21,711
- 2013-14: 23,220
- 2014-15: 21,078
- 2015-16: 18,950
All above figures have been taken from the PDFs available on the following page of the government’s border.gov.au website
So, as we can see, migration from the UK to Australia is definitely on the way down, but as my earlier figures show total migration to Australia is not. Effectively Australia gets the numbers it wants in terms of people moving to this country, what changes are the countries migrants come from.
These countries of origin do not change because of anything the Australian Government are doing; I would suggest it’s a case of market forces at play.
Australian migration is mostly skills based. If a skilled worker wants to jump through all the hoops of moving to another country, I would suspect the very least they would want out of that would be a better job. Sure, a better lifestyle, better weather, enjoying the great outdoors, the barbecues and the beaches are very attractive, but a good job is very important.
I would suggest it is that which is the main driver of the country of origin statistics more than anything else. I’m sure there are many other factors though, maybe you could tell us what you think in the comments below.
It will be interesting to see how Brexit affects the figures for the UK next year as well. On the one hand, I suspect there is a good percentage of people looking at the chaos in Britain at the moment and wishing they were here in Australia. On the other hand, they may be looking at the forever plunging pound against the Australian dollar and wondering how they could possibly afford to do it.
Brexit is a question for another day though.