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Pandemic Driven Population Growth

By Rachel Wallace

Geelong tops the list for pandemic driven population growth.

By mid 2021, it became clear how much the pandemic had driven people to regional and outer suburban areas. The latest data on population growth by small area from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) now provides us with deeper insight into the areas that attracted the most people since the first lockdown in March 2020.

To work out the areas that benefited most from the pandemic, we looked at population growth per annum during the pandemic (2019 to 2021) and compared it to the long term average (2001 to 2021). Topping the list for growth was Geelong – during the pandemic, Geelong’s population increased by 7,157 per year which compared to the long term average of 5,000 people per year.

While Geelong was a major people attractor, so too was the outer Brisbane area of Logan-Beaudesert. A search for bigger homes on bigger blocks resulted in much stronger population growth for this area. The Hunter Valley came in third with similar drivers to Geelong – a search for space was key, but so too were changes to the way people were working through the pandemic which allowed for greater choice of location.

The majority of top pandemic growth regions were either outer suburban areas of capital cities or regional locations close to capital cities. The one outlier was the Murray region of NSW where population growth was more than double the long term average. The Murray region includes the towns of Albury, Hay and Deniliquin, none of which are within commuting distance to any capital city. It is likely that the popularity of this area is part lifestyle change but also due to some bumper agricultural conditions that have been seen over the past two years.

Will this population growth continue? It is possible that many of these areas will see even greater population growth in the next 12 months. International borders are open again which means that migration to Australia is starting up again. The momentum in many of these areas is set to continue.

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