Slow population growth rate responsible for SA’s struggling economy

Two major reports have attributed South Australia’s struggling economy to low population growth rate, which was ranked as the second-worst in the nation in CommSec’s latest State of the States quarterly report.

Only Tasmania ranked below South Australia for overall economic performance, with Western Australia sitting on top with a healthy 2.8 per cent population growth rate.

By comparison, South Australia’s growth rate sits at 0.9 per cent, just half the national average.

Alarmingly, the CommSec report also claims that SA’s economy is “losing momentum” due to a weak job market and lack of a major growth driver.

However Chris Richardson from Deloitte Access Economics said people were “too negative about the economy,” with his company’s quarterly report providing a somewhat more positive outlook.

“Growth in South Australia has been surprisingly solid for a long period of time,” he said.

“Most of the economic underperformance of South Australia has actually been underperformance of population, once you adjust for that.”

CommSec Chief Economist, Craig James said that whilst many would have thought that the end of the mining boom in Western Australia would have seen it slip from the number one spot, its economy was underpinned by a strong population growth rate that was absent in the lower-ranked states.

“Unfortunately, both South Australia and Tasmania are missing in terms of overall population growth and momentum through the economy,” he said.

Managing Director of Migration Solutions, Mark Glazbrook says both reports clearly show how important it is for South Australia to increase its share of Australia’s migration program and embrace population growth as a means to stimulate economic growth.

“South Australia cannot afford to sit back and hope for a mining boom to hit in order to drive economic growth in this state,” he said.

“Ensuring that South Australia has a sustainable population growth plan which includes immigration, infrastructure requirements and environmental impacts is critically important to growing the economic future and prosperity of our state.”

Mr Glazbrook said South Australia’s nation-high unemployment rate is another area that could be addressed through improved immigration outcomes.

“Contrary to many people’s beliefs, greater controlled population growth and targeted skilled migration actually creates job opportunities, rather than taking them away from Australians.”

“A well-balanced, targeted and sustainable migration program to South Australia must receive bipartisan support in order to improve economic outcomes and create more opportunities for all South Australians.”

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